Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/2/11
For Twins reliever Glen Perkins, the 2010 season was a frustrating one. After making 67 appearances since breaking into the majors in 2006, Perkins began the 2010 season at Triple-A Rochester. He spent much of the year with the Red Wings before appearing in 13 games with Minnesota in August and September. "It was hard. I had never struggled," Perkins said this week. "You learn a lot about yourself. I think it was all for the better. Obviously, the plan included going (to the minors) and learning how to pitch again and coming back and being a successful big leaguer again." The things he learned from the 2010 season helped Perkins put together an impressive 2011 campaign. Considering how the recent season unfolded, it came as little surprise when Perkins was named both the Twins Pitcher of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year for 2011. The 28-year-old established himself as an effective setup man, posting a 2.48 ERA while striking out 65 and walking 21 in 61 inningson the wayto recently earning both awards. "Just looking at where I was at the beginning of the year to where I was last year, to come back and be healthy and have a great year and most importantly, help out the team, it's exciting. It's an honor," Perkins said. "With the Most Improved (award), I think that's just a testament to the hard work and things that I put in in the down year in 2010 to come back strong in 2011." Perkins will likely be one of Minnesota's top relievers in 2012, but the rest of the Twins' bullpen remains a question mark, especially if free agents Joe Nathan and Matt Capps leave Minnesota. Nathan, who missed the 2010 season after having Tommy John surgery, returned in 2011 and eventually settled back into the closer's role. When the Twins didn't pick up Nathan's 12.5 million option for the 2012 season, the 36-year-old reliever became a free agent. Perkins has become close friends with Nathan and said he wouldn't be surprised to see Nathan back in a Twins uniform. "I know that he's excited (about free agency). He's played for 11 years and it's the first time he's ever going to be a free agent. So I think that excites him," Perkins said. "But I know at the same time, he likes familiarity and likes the Twins organization and Target Field and all those things. Where he ends up, I don't know. But as of right now, I think that the Twins in his mind are as good a chance as anywhere." If Nathan does indeed leave, Minnesota will be left to find a new closer. Perkins' name has been mentioned for that role following his successful 2011 season, and it's something the left-hander has been asked about multiple times. But after finding his niche as a setup man in 2011, Perkins said he's fine in whatever bullpen role the team puts him in. "It's not a huge worry for me. I'm just excited that I had a good year and I'll be able to come into this year knowing that what I did last year, I can build off that," Perkins said. "Wherever I pitch is where I pitch. They're going to do what's best for the team now and in the future and financially and all those things. I'm not going to really worry about that. I know that if I have the same role I had this past season, I'll be fine with that." For now, Perkins isn't worrying about what his role might be next year. He's enjoying his offseason, which so far has included watching former Twins teammate Nick Punto win a World Series ring as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. "It was awesome to see him out there. Another guy with great character, a great teammate. He's the kind of guy you're happy to see get a ring," Perkins said of Punto. "I think all the guys on the team were excited to see that." The rest of Perkins' offseason will include a hunting trip with another former teammate Jim Thome, the former Minnesota slugger who hit his 600th career home run with the Twins this season before he was traded to Cleveland. Perkins, an avid hunter, will be heading to Illinois to hunt with Thome later this year. "I'm really looking forward to that, just a chance to hang out with him in a non-baseball setting," Perkins said. "He's such an amazing guy. To get the opportunity and get the chance to get invited down and spend some time with him is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
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