The Twins' Glen Perkins has done it all.
"Perk", as he is fondly referred to by teammates and coaches, served as a relief pitcher during the 2006-07 seasons. In 2008-09, the versatile Perkins was part of Minnesota's five-man starting rotation. In 2010, he played both roles, but it wasn't until the 2011 season that Perkins returned to his favorite role -- that of a full-time reliever.
"Starting was a grind every fifth day," Perkins said. "And doing the routine thing really wasn't the thing for me. Being in the bullpen, I get to come to the field every day thinking I might get to play and I feel like an everyday guy. I really have grown to like being a reliever, because I get to come to the field and prepare the same way every day."
And it shows. In 2011, as a dedicated reliever, Perkins showed the Twins what he was capable of. His 2.48 ERA and 4-4 record through 65 games earned him the Twins' Pitcher of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year awards.
But with those accolades, Perkins readily admits, comes pressure to perform well in their wake.
"Last year was a good year, and so there are more expectations, but it has been pretty good so far," Perkins said, a statement backed up by his 2.93 ERA thus far. "I like being the guy that the team relies on at the end of the game, and factor in to whether or not we win or lose the game. It's a lot of pressure, but it's welcome pressure."
Indeed, Perkins has delivered under pressure, even going so far as to notch his first career save on Wednesday.
Of the occasion, in which the southpaw secured a 2-1 Twins lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, Perkins said, "It was great. It wasn't great that it was a situation where Cappy [then-injured closer Matt Capps] was hurt, but he's back now and I was able to pick him up for a day."
All the more support for the Twins' March decision to ink a three-year, $10.3 million deal with the clubhouse veteran, a decision Perkins himself couldn't be happier with.
The St. Paul, Minn., native says he is living out a boyhood dream by playing on his hometown team.
"Growing up in Minnesota and getting to play for the team I grew up cheering for, that's a dream come true," Perkins said. "And to have success and to be a guy that is an important part of the team, it's something I never dreamed of. The opportunity to get to do that is awesome.
"There aren't a whole lot of guys that get to play with one team, let alone their hometown team. Hopefully, things will work out and I'll get to play my whole career here. I think I'm on the right track, and it's exciting to think I will get to play my career with my home team."
Having grown up following the Twins, Perkins noted that he doesn't see any major changes in the team from his childhood compared to the present.
"By and large, things are run on a day to day basis the way it has always been," he said. "We've been in a little rut last year and this year, but their plan is a good plan. So as long as guys stick with it and buy into it, then we'll be alright."
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.