Posted at 7:33 PM on August 20, 2008
by David Zingler
He's a 24-year-old former 1st round draft pick who was born in St. Paul, plays for the Twins and is having a very successful season. No, I am NOT talking about Joe Mauer.
The emergence of Glen Perkins is one of the key reasons the Twins have become unlikely contenders this season. The former Gophers star has compiled a 10-3 record and 4.17 ERA so far this season, his first as a starter.
I caught up with the young left-hander before last night's game:
DZ: I imagine you are having a pretty good time right now; you're in the rotation, pitching well and the team is in contention. Talk a little bit about that.
PERKINS: It's awesome. From where I started this year - getting sent down out of spring training and kind of being disappointed in myself was frustrating - every year, they say it's not how you start, it's how you finish. We're not done yet, but I am on a good path toward finishing strong. I definitely didn't think I would be in this situation three, four or five months ago. So, I am grateful for the opportunity they did give me and I am trying to take advantage of it.
DZ: You're a hometown guy and everybody knows here in Minnesota we love our hometown players, but with Joe Mauer on the team, you kind of get that spotlight taken from you.
PERKINS: That's fine. Us, as a pitching staff are like that. We've got five good guys in this rotation and we only have one that gets any notoriety and that's from what he did two years ago. I am fine with that and I think we are all fine with that. We might not make the headlines, but we still (get it done) as a group and individually. If (Mauer) wants to take that spotlight, that's fine - he can be Minnesota's guy. I am just glad to throw to him.
DZ: Did your (and Mauer's) paths cross at all as amateurs?
PERKINS: The only time it did, we were roommates at an All Star Game out of high school. That was really the first time I met him. I played with one of his good friends at (the University of) Minnesota, so I saw him on and off. When I got drafted, he was one of the first guys to call and congratulate me. We stayed in touch and now being on the team and getting to throw to him - I think we have a special bond: we are both from the same area and are the same age. We get along pretty well.
DZ: You guys are obviously a young rotation - basically the Rochester Redwings rotation of last year. Does (that experience together) help you get through the tough times?
PERKINS: Yeah, it's cool. I think going into the '07 season, myself, Slowey and Baker we're all in the Rochester rotation and then Blacky joined us when Baker got called up. So, we were all kind of right there together and myself, Blackburn and Slowey were all in the rotation in New Britain - Double A - in '06. It's a neat thing knowing that we all came up together and are getting this opportunity all at the same time.
DZ: I notice you have a new number (this year) - you went from 60 to 15. Is there any story behind that?
PERKINS: (15) finally became available. They gave me (60) at my first big league camp and I was just glad to have a jersey. So, I pitched with that and this is the first off-season that 15 became available. I wore (15) in college and it was a number that meant a lot to me - I had good times wearing that number in college.
DZ: Everybody is talking about the long road trip coming up; do you have enough clothes to pack for that long?
PERKINS: I don't know. I went and picked up my dry cleaning today, so I will pack what I got and I'll probably have to buy a few shirts somewhere at some point. It's tough to pack for that long - I'll pack for a week and then buy another week's worth of clothes.
DZ: How many games does it take on a trip for you to think "OK, I am ready to go home?"
PERKINS: I think we go from Anaheim to Oakland - once we leave Oakland most of our biological clocks will go, "That was a good road trip, I am ready to go home now," but we'll have to refocus and start a whole new road trip. We'll be fine. I don't think any of us are too worried about that, I think actually most of us are excited to get outside and play.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
August 12: Matt Guerrier
August 1: Nick Punto
July 31: Justin Morneau
July 30: Scott Baker
June 30: Brian Bass
June 27: Brian Buscher
June 18: Matt Macri
June 6: Craig Breslow
June 4: Michael Cuddyer
May 25: Nick Punto & Mike Redmond
May 20: Justin Morneau
May 1: Nick Blackburn
April 29: Brendan Harris
April 20: Jason Kubel
April 17: Denard Span
April 2: Matt Tolbert
I had the pleasure of watching nearly everyone of Perk's home games at the U. In my 15 years working with the Gophers, I never saw anyone like him. He started every Big Ten series over two years for John Anderson and never lost going 15-0. It's nice to see him find success in the Big Leagues.