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All-Star game was moment to savor for Glen Perkins

The Associated Press
All-Star game was moment to savor for Glen Perkins

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The script for Glen Perkins hasn't always gone so smoothly. Sure, there have been hiccups. Life is never perfect.

Rare, though, are the occurrences in sports that come together as marvelously as this for the Minnesota closer: taking the mound for the American League All-Star team and pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning in front of his roaring, adoring home fans.

When Perkins jogged out of the bullpen on Tuesday night at Target Field, he was taken aback by how loud the crowd became.

''I wasn't fighting back tears, but it was an overwhelming moment to hear,'' Perkins said. ''It was a moment like that where you realize why you play the game and what makes the game so fun, and it's the fans in the stands.''

His All-Star status and salary of more than $4 million this season put him in the societal elite, but in many ways Perkins is a lot alike many of those fans in the stands.

He grew up in a Twin Cities suburb, Stillwater, and lives year-round in Minnesota, a rarity for Twins players. Boating and fishing are two of his favorite pastimes. He's regularly on social media, with a sharp sense of humor and down-to-earth perspective that further endear him to the masses.

Minutes after finishing one of his shakiest saves of the season, at Milwaukee last month, Perkins posted on Twitter: ''I just did my best Ron Davis impression,'' alluding to the Twins closer of the mid-1980s prone to wild pitches and blown leads.

Perkins has proven to be far more effective than Davis, though, putting himself on track to approach Joe Nathan franchise-leading all-time saves total. At age 31, under contract through at least 2017, Perkins isn't going anywhere. The Twins have an option on his deal for 2018 that would be a market bargain at $6.5 million if he stays healthy and productive.

Perkins was the one who approached the front office during spring training about an extension, willing to take a contract that could've been richer. He started the year as the 17th-highest paid closer in the majors.

That's fine by him. Becoming an All-Star for his hometown Twins has been beyond his grandest goals.

''Hearing how loud the fans were, it makes me want to get to the playoffs,'' said Perkins, who made one appearance in the 2006 first-round series as a rookie but wasn't on the postseason roster in either 2009 or 2010.

The Twins went 5-2 on their road trip before the All-Star break and have generally been more competent and competitive than their last three teams that each lost 96 games or more.

Still, they're 10 1-2 games out of first place. Their starting pitchers, despite progress by Kyle Gibson and the upgrade with Phil Hughes, have a 4.86 ERA, the third-worst mark in the majors.

Veterans on expiring contracts like Suzuki, left fielder Josh Willingham and starting pitcher Kevin Correia could be traded in the coming weeks. The players, of course, are opposed.

''I know how the business side of it is, the long-term stuff,'' second baseman Brian Dozier said. ''But it's our job to make those decisions hard for them. To be honest with you, I want to contend. I believe we can. We've got the people to do it. I'm not saying we don't need a couple of extra pieces, but I think we're going to be just fine. We just have to get on a roll.''

The Twins start their post-break schedule with 10 straight games at Target Field. Manager Ron Gardenhire joked last week about being home enough to actually help his wife, Carol, mow the lawn.

Danny Santana will come off the disabled list Friday, and ideally Joe Mauer will join him soon after. Perhaps prospects Trevor May or Alex Meyer will get a promotion from Triple-A to boost the rotation.

''We think if we can get healthy and pitching again, that's pretty good. We still have to find some consistency there. Our offense, I think that will come if we get all the pieces back we hope for,'' Gardenhire said.

One place the manager isn't worried about is the back of the bullpen. Perkins has that taken care of.

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