Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/25/12
MINNEAPOLIS When the Minnesota Twins opened Target Field in 2010, the organization prided itself on staying local with almost every aspect of the ballpark. From the food served at concession stands to the materials used to build the park, nearly everything came from Minnesota. Now they're applying that philosophy to the roster. Throughout the team's history, it has had guys every now and then who were born and raised in the state of Minnesota. For several years, St. Paul native Joe Mauer and Stillwater's Glen Perkins were the only two Minnesotans on the Twins' major league roster. But they were joined earlier this week by a third Minnesota native when Eden Prairie's Cole De Vries was called up from Triple-A Rochester and made his big league debut Thursday. "It's just kind of been Perk and myself ever since I've been here," Mauer said. "It's always exciting to see a fellow Minnesotan in the big leagues, let alone here on the Twins." One day after making his first career start with his hometown Twins, De Vries still had the smile of a kid who was living out his childhood dream. Growing up in Eden Prairie, De Vries said he idolized Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek as he played baseball in the backyard with his dad. Although he was hit with the loss Thursday when he gave up six runs (three earned) in five innings, De Vries was riding on Cloud 9 prior to Friday's game -- his first as a Twin at Target Field. "It was unbelievable," De Vries said of his debut, one day later. "That's probably one of the understatements of my life so far. It's just so crazy to be out here after all the hard work I've put it, just grinding it out in the minor leagues to finally get an opportunity. It was awesome." De Vries has rejoined a former Gophers teammate in Perkins, now a setup man for the Twins. The two played together at the University of Minnesota for just one season in 2004, but they were part of a Gophers squad that went 38-23 overall and 21-10 in the Big Ten. While De Vries was a freshman that year, Perkins was a big reason the Gophers had success as he was 9-2 with a 2.83 ERA and was named the 2004 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. "I just remember how good of a pitcher Perk was in college," De Vries said. "He was by far the ace on our team, carving up guys. Obviously not too much has changed." De Vries and Perkins are two of three former Gophers currently playing in the majors, along with Indians infielder Jack Hannahan. Pitcher John Gaub played briefly for the Cubs last season but is currently at Triple-A Durham. In all, 33 Gophers have made it to the majors. John Anderson coached 17 of those, including De Vries and Perkins. "It doesn't get old. It's great for our program and gives it some credibility," Anderson said. "I keep tabs on all of our guys, try to check in on all of them, whether they're in Triple A or rookie ball. . . . Obviously we're interested in how they're doing. They're part of our family here. We stay connected." De Vries was called up to the Twins because Minnesota's rotation is in flux. Nick Blackburn is currently on the disabled list, Francisco Liriano is in the bullpen and Jason Marquis was recently designated for assignment. When he made his start Thursday, De Vries became the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Twins this season. But will he stick around for any length of time? Blackburn will likely go on a rehab assignment soon as he continues to deal with a quad injury, and when he returns it will mean one pitcher will have to go. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said De Vries will get at least one more start. Now it's up to De Vries to make his first trip to the majors last longer than that. "It's kind of one of those things that sounds like as long as I keep performing, just like anyone, I'm going to stay," De Vries said. ". . . I'm just going to try to go out every time and compete as well as I can. Hopefully it's for the rest of the season and however many years after that. Who knows?" Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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