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For the past half-decade, Joe Mauer has been the face of the Twins franchise. It’s understandable; Mauer has won batting titles and an MVP. He’s got nonthreatening handsome looks that make teenage girls swoon and their grandmother’s hearts warm. He’s also the team’s highest paid player and, most importantly, he’s one of us. A certain segment of the population is bored by Mauer however; he’s got no sizzle, no edge, no charisma.
If you’re among the latter group, Glen Perkins may be your guy. Perkins is everything Mauer isn’t. He hard to learn the hard way before gaining big league success, nearly politicking his way out of the organization in a 2009 arbitration dispute. Now he’s the closer with heat in the high 90s who can make Miguel Cabrera look silly, the All Star who enjoys the spot light. He’s engaging, honest and doesn’t take himself too seriously. And he’s one of us.
I stopped by Perkins’ corner locker for a brief chat during the last homestand.
DZ: You guys have been playing a little better since the All Star break, what do you think has been the difference?
PERKINS: Team wise, just all around, I think we’ve pitched better. We hit some homeruns last week, had a little more power. The last few days here, we’ve hit a little better with runners in scoring position (and) the bullpen’s been solid. Just all around, as a team, I think we’ve been picking each other up and just kind of putting it all together a little better than we had been.
DZ: It’s been roughly a month now since the All Star game – your first one – what stands out about it?
PERKINS: It was just having the family out there and being able to experience it with my kids and then being there with all those guys who you play against. Even the guys who you don’t or watched growing up or come up through the minor leagues – being around the best players in the game is quite an honor.
DZ: You didn’t get in the game, but the bullpen was more of a focus that it normally would be in an All Star game with Mariano Rivera (involved). What was it like being down there with him?
PERKINS: That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve gotten a few chances to talk to him and being down there for that was something that – I think there was about 10 of us down there – so not a whole lot of people got to experience it. It’s pretty special, his last game there. Such a great person…getting to spend some time with him is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
DZ: You have a few things (All Star mementos – jerseys, balls) still here in your locker. Did you get a lot of requests from people wanting you to bring back stuff?
PERKINS: You know, yeah, you get a lot of stuff. I ended up coming back with a few boxes full of stuff, so you take care of the people who are close to you. I’ve got some stuff saved up that we’ll be giving away and trying to raise money (for charity).
DZ: I noticed this year you have a corner locker with is usually reserved for the veteran players, the leaders, did you ask for that?
PERKINS: No, Carl (Pavano) had been here and I’ve been here for 8 or 9 years now – getting up there in time. It’s where they put me and everything that comes with it – I am fine with that. I want guys to look up to me here and I think I do a pretty good job setting an example of being a leader.
DZ: Can you think of one area where you have grown the most over the past five or six years, as player or as a person?
PERKINS: I think it’s being a good teammate, learning how to be a better teammate; being there for guys who are young. There were a lot of guys who were here for me when I was younger and coming up on this team. You try to be there for those guys and as time goes on, you learn how to do that. Then you see people coming to you for things, for advice and that. You just try to be there for them.
DZ: Last month during the trade deadline, your name came up a little bit. How did that affect you, what was that experience like?
PERKINS: They did a good job with me. Terry (Ryan) came and talked to me a few times and said “you might read this or you might read that”, but you are a part of where we are going. It’s reassuring to hear that from him. I was never worried about it. People assume things, people write things, but I heard it from him, so nothing really affected me.
DZ: As a professional it’s got to be flattering knowing that other teams are interested in you?
PERKINS: Yeah, you want to be wanted, but I think the most important thing is that they want me here more than another team wants me. When I signed here for the four years I signed for, I had every intention of fulfilling that and not finishing that contract out elsewhere. So far, I am here and a I want to be a part of where we are headed, be a part of winning teams in Minnesota again.
DZ: A couple of quick things, real hard hitting – what do you think of the Vikings this year?
PERKINS: I am excited. I haven’t been this excited for a Vikings season in a while.
DZ: That’s not always good though.
PERKINS: No, I know, that’s fine though. That’s probably what it is. I stopped following them because they let me down in ’98 and ’03. I am excited to watch and see Adrian does this year because he’s got a way of exceeding everyone’s expectations. He’s going to be fun to watch.
DZ: I know you guys have a fantasy football league here. Do you have the draft scheduled yet; do you know who is picking No. 1?
PERKINS: I don’t know the order, but I’ve got the 10th pick out of 12. You know what, it’s Fien, Casey Fien because I told him I would give him all of my draft picks so I could pick first and take Adrian. Otherwise, I am not going to be able to pay attention to the league.
DZ: Who won last year?
PERKINS: I don’t remember, I lost – I didn’t start AP in Week 1 and I ended up losing the tiebreaker (to get into the playoffs). So, if I would started him in Week 1, I would’ve ran away with Week 1, made the playoffs and, obviously, his last three weeks of the season during the fantasy playoffs he was unbelievable. Didn’t start him in Week 1, not really knowing what he was gonna bring cost me for the rest of the season. I don’t remember who won; I quit paying attention when I didn’t make the playoffs.
DZ: Are you going to try to make it to the Dome one last time for a game?
PERKINS: I have never been to the Vikings game at the Dome. I’ve been to one Vikings game; I went to the NFC Championship in New Orleans in ’09. That’s the only Vikes game I have ever been to. I will probably get to one this year; I am doing a thing with Kyle Rudolph for muscular dystrophy in October. I will probably try to hit him up (for tickets) when I am there.
DZ: You’ve gotta check out the Dome one last time, right?
PERKINS: I don’t know, I think I’ve spent enough time there (laughs).
See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players: