Perkins could see ninth-inning action in tie games

Molitor may buck trending on saving closer for save situation in extra innings

Perkins could see ninth-inning action in tie games

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor met with closer Glen Perkins to get his thoughts on changing his usage this season, as Molitor is open to using Perkins in the ninth inning of tied games on the road.

Most managers save their closer in the ninth of tied games on the road in case they go ahead in extra innings and they need to use their closer in the bottom half of the inning to get the save and close out the win. But often times, it means the club's best reliever never gets into the game, as the closer waits around for a save that never comes with a walk-off loss.

Molitor said he was asked about that situation during his job interview with the Twins, and he believes in bucking the trend of holding your closer exclusively for saves on the road. Perkins, who is sabermetrically inclined, told Molitor he's on board with it despite the fact it could ultimately cost him a few save opportunities.

"The whole philosophy of it, I think there's some pretty sound logic to doing it, but it depends on who else you have out there and how they're pitching," Molitor said. "He thought that however we decided to use him to help us win more games, he was on board."

As Molitor pointed out, it won't always be the case that Perkins will take the mound in those situations, and the first-year manager added he might ease into that strategy early in the year until he finds someone else he can trust to close out games in those situations.

"It doesn't happen very often where it's a tie game on the road and you get to the ninth inning with a chance to win, but you can imagine certain scenarios where that might happen," Molitor said. "You want to try to get through the ninth and try to score and have somebody close it out. But I'm not sure if I'm going to that initially."

Perkins, a two-time All-Star, has been held out of action early in camp with a mild right oblique strain, but he is expected to pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday and make his Grapefruit League debut this weekend. Molitor said Perkins is the only reliever on the club with a set role, as he's still trying to sort out who will make the bullpen and what roles they will pitch in.

"There's still a lot of questions out there," Molitor said. "I think you want to have a general plan and have an idea of how want to use people. I think it's helpful to them and to me so we're on the same page as we work our way through a ballgame."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.