09/11/07 9:19 PM ET
Notes: Perkins returns to 'pen
Reliever expected to be used sparingly after 100-game absence
By Conor Nicholl / MLB.com
"The last week to two weeks, it seems like it has taken just as long to watch everyone play and seeing games where I could have gone in," Perkins said. "That has been just as hard as the couple months that I spent in Florida [rehabbing]."
Perkins has missed the last 100 Major League games since he hurt his shoulder May 22 and subsequently was placed on the disabled list. He is 0-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 games this season.
"I kind of feel like I just got called up again in a way," Perkins said. "When I warm up and get going, I will probably get that rush again. I have been out for 3 1/2 months and I am excited to get that call."
Since the injury, Perkins has rehabbed in Florida and pitched at several Minor League stops. He went 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in eight games. At first, Perkins thought he could return well before Tuesday, but the slow rehab pushed him back.
"Initially, I thought I would be back earlier, but it ended up a little worse than anybody thought," Perkins said. "I probably had some setbacks pushing it and trying to get back sooner rather than just taking my time, but I am young and excited to pitch and I had an opportunity to be here and take advantage of it. That may have cost me some time. What is important to me is that I get a chance to pitch at some point."
Perkins' role is still undetermined. Manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't want to see Perkins re-injure himself and will likely not put him into high-pressure situations and save him for long relief roles.
However, Perkins -- because of his lack of innings -- sees himself as a possible left-handed situational reliever. More importantly, though, is that Perkins just wants to pitch. He was excited after he last bullpen session on Sunday and is looking forward to game action.
"I don't think I will be out there for a whole bunch of innings," Perkins said. "Obviously, whatever they want me to do and whenever they can get [me] in the games, I am all for it."
Gardenhire defends Ankiel: Gardenhire believes Rick Ankiel's story concerning human growth hormone. While watching the Cardinals-Cubs game on Monday, Gardenhire said he was prescribed steroids for an elbow problem a few years before he reached the Majors in 1981.
Gardenhire injured his elbow while taking batting practice. He was issued a "steroid pack" and the pain was gone in a few days.
"It was to get tendinitis out of my elbow," Gardenhire said. "The pain went right away."
Ankiel, now a slugging outfielder for the Cardinals, said he received prescribed shipments of HGH from a doctor after he had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2004. His story has been met by skepticism. Gardenhire, though, said there is nothing wrong with following doctor's advice.
"I feel bad for him," the manager said. "I don't know if he deserves [to be named], but his name is tarnished now. Is that fair?"
Blackburn impresses: Nick Blackburn tossed 2 2/3 shutout innings in Monday's win. Blackburn, one of the Twins' young pitchers and a candidate for the 2008 rotation, has now tossed 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball in three Major League games this season after posting a 7-3 record and 2.11 ERA for Triple-A Rochester.
"We like the way he stands up there," Gardenhire said. "We like the way he throws the ball. [Joe] Mauer caught him and thought he had great stuff. A lot of movement, locates, can change speeds."
On Monday, Blackburn came into protect a 3-2 -- later 4-2 -- lead.
"It is definitely a little nerve-racking, but I like it though," Blackburn said. "That is what I came here to do. I want to keep being put in spots, because it is more fun to come in when the game means something and it is more of a challenge."
He had no trouble in the sixth and seventh innings, but loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth. However, Matt Guerrier struck out Esteban German on three pitches to end the threat. Afterward, Blackburn focused more on the eighth than his previous two innings.
"I left the game with the bases loaded and that wasn't too satisfying, but Guerrier came in and made some great pitches," Blackburn said. "It is good to know that everybody is satisfied about it, but still, you are not going to be able to always get out of jams like that. I made a couple of mistakes tonight, and if I can just limit those mistakes, then I will be all right."
Bunts: Gardenhire has been very impressed with his catchers' arms. Minnesota's backstops lead the Majors with the highest caught-stealing percentage (38.8) and fewest stolen base-attempts (85). Joe Mauer threw out two runners on Monday, including Joey Gathright, arguably the fastest man in baseball.
"We have two guys that can do that pretty well," Gardenhire said. "[Mike] Redmond is quick and Mauer is just powerful. If the pitcher gives them a chance, they will throw them out." ... Gardenhire said Redmond (finger) will head home for treatment. "He is not making a lot of progress," the manager said. ... Gardenhire would also be "surprised" if Tommy Watkins (groin) returns this season. "He went out there to field a few ground balls and there was nothing. He couldn't really move."
Coming up: Two of the pitchers with the lowest run support in the Majors match up on Wednesday afternoon. Carlos Silva (11-8, 4.34 ERA), who has the fifth-lowest run support of any American League pitcher, faces Gil Meche (7-12, 3.82 ERA), who has the lowest. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.