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Veteran Perez to compete for 5th spot in rotation

January 23, 2019

WADENA, Minn. -- Though the signing of left-hander Martin Perez hasn't yet been announced, the Twins intend to have him compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. And while the team continues to search the market for pitching depth, Twins leadership currently feels secure in the starting options on

WADENA, Minn. -- Though the signing of left-hander Martin Perez hasn't yet been announced, the Twins intend to have him compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. And while the team continues to search the market for pitching depth, Twins leadership currently feels secure in the starting options on the roster.
"I think in the acquisitions of Richard Parker in the bullpen and Martin Perez, potentially, in the rotation, I think we've really stabilized things," general manager Thad Levine said at an event in Mankato, Minn. "Our rotation as it stands right now, we feel, is as strong as it's been in probably over a decade."
Source: Twins reach deal with Perez | Rotation if season started today
Levine has familiarity with Perez from the 11 seasons that he spent in Texas as the assistant general manager of the Rangers. Prior to the reports of his signing with the Twins, Perez had spent his entire professional career in the Rangers' organization, including seven seasons in the Major Leagues.
Perez has a 4.63 career ERA at the Major League level in 141 appearances, including 128 starts.
"Thad did a great job," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think his relationship with Martin really helped us get ahead in this situation."
Levine acknowledged that Perez had a disappointing 2018, when the 27-year-old southpaw recorded a 6.22 ERA and finished the season as a reliever. He became a free agent when the Rangers declined a $7.5 million club option for '19.

But Perez will be "at the headline" of competing for the open rotation spot, joining Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda, who are all secure in their starting slots. Levine confirmed that Pineda, coming off Tommy John surgery, is "full go" in 2019, though the Twins are going to be cautious with his innings count.
"We're going to try to be smart with [Pineda], because we feel like at his best, he's one of the best pitchers in the American League," Levine said.
The acquisition of Perez makes the road to consistent starting experience more difficult for Adalberto Mejia, Fernando Romero, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Chase De Jong and Zack Littell in 2019. While the Twins could still seek out bullpen pieces, Levine indicated that the Twins want to factor their young arms into the relief corps to continue getting them experience at the MLB level.
"We really want to give those guys every chance we can," Levine said.
Rosario competes in free-throw challenge against high schoolers
If he had to choose a sport other than baseball, Eddie Rosario would have tried his hand at basketball. But he was a little rusty on Wednesday morning.
The new Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School was built after a devastating EF-4 tornado tore through the 4,088-person city of Wadena in 2010, and the school's students were joined by younger kids from the nearby elementary school in a vibrant gymnasium that proved the most energetic stop yet on this leg of the Twins Winter Caravan.

The typical question-and-answer session with the crowd was followed by a free-throw competition. Rosario went 5-for-5 from the stripe on last year's Twins Winter Caravan, but this year's competitors from Wadena-Deer Creek's boys' and girls' basketball teams -- Steven and Kennedy -- gave the Twins' left fielder some stiff competition, with Kennedy taking home the crown on her last shot.
The third day of the Caravan culminated in a night stop in Bemidji, Minn., where Rosario, Berrios and Baldelli participated in their final evening event before departing for another in Minneapolis on Thursday morning. Ehire Adrianza and Taylor Rogers will join radio broadcaster Kris Atteberry for the Caravan's final night in Duluth, Minn.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.