Perkins progressing with bullpen sessions

Perkins progressing with bullpen sessions

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins closer Glen Perkins took a big step in his recovery from his left shoulder strain on Saturday, as he threw a 33-pitch bullpen session without any issues and is hopeful to start a rehab assignment next weekend.

Perkins, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 11, threw off a mound for the first time since pitching against the Royals on April 10. He threw 12 pitches with the catcher up in front of the plate before throwing 21 fastballs from normal distance.

Perkins called it encouraging, as he saw his initial bullpen session on May 23 pushed back because of shoulder discomfort while playing long toss from 120 feet. But after throwing from 120 feet three times this week, including a session before his bullpen on Saturday, Perkins said he believes his shoulder woes are behind him.

"It was good," Perkins said. "It's been so long I lost track. It's been, like, eight weeks. It's a big step after not being able to get to 120 feet a week and a half ago. It's encouraging. I know I'm that much closer. Once you throw off a mound, it's just a matter of time before you're in a game."

If all goes to plan, Perkins is scheduled to throw bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Friday before heading out on a rehab assignment. Perkins said he'll wait until his final bullpen session to throw his slider from 60 feet off the mound. He's hopeful he'll only need a few appearances in rehab games before making his return.

"Knock on wood, I don't see anything setting me back at this point," Perkins said. "It's just about building arm strength. It's been a long layoff, so it takes a little bit of time. But I know there's light at the end of the tunnel for the first time since I was put on the DL."

Twins manager Paul Molitor watched the bullpen session on a television in his office, and was encouraged to see that it went well.

"It's a good sight," Molitor said. "I think the fact that he's been throwing freely from 120 feet without any repercussions makes me feel pretty optimistic. We'll just see how it all goes."

Worth noting
• Right-hander Alex Meyer, who has been dealing with shoulder inflammation at Triple-A Rochester, is going for a second opinion on his shoulder after getting an MRI exam last week, general manager Terry Ryan said. Meyer, who hasn't pitched since May 3, was officially placed on the 7-day DL at Rochester on Saturday.

• Right-hander Kyle Gibson, who saw his scheduled start on Thursday pushed back because of lower back stiffness, left for Louisville on Saturday, as he's set to make a rehab start there with Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. He's expected to throw roughly 90 pitches. The Twins will have a four-man rotation in the meantime, as Phil Hughes was moved to the bullpen. Gibson, on the DL since April 23 with a right shoulder strain, is slated to rejoin the rotation on Friday against the Red Sox if all goes well.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.