Mauer, Perkins come full circle at Citi Field
Twins All-Stars, Minnesota natives together again for Midsummer Classic
NEW YORK -- For Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins, they've gone from Metro East Lion All-Stars as 18-year-olds to Major League All-Stars this year.
The two Minnesota natives have known each other since high school and now are able to share another experience together at the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Mauer, a six-time All-Star, and Perkins, a first-time All-Star, are even set to recreate their photo from their days as Metro East Lion All-Stars, as the Twins sent out their club photographer with that goal in mind.
"We go way back and have been friends for 15 or 16 years now, so it's special we get to share this together here," Perkins said. "I'm kind of tagging along with him because he's an All-Star veteran. It's awesome to be able to add this to our careers and our story of growing up in Minnesota together."
For Mauer, it's simply yet another All-Star Game for the St. Paul native, as he's set to start at catcher for the American League for the fourth time in his career. But he said this one is different because he gets to spend it with Perkins, who hails from Stillwater, Minn.
"I keep saying as long as they keep having me back, I'll keep going," Mauer said. "Every one of them is different, so that's the neat thing about it. You're never promised to come back again, so try to enjoy these days as much as you can. It never gets old. It's cool to share it with my teammate this year, who is also a native Minnesotan in Glen Perkins."
Mauer, 30, is having another productive season at the plate, as he's hitting .320/.402/.473 with eight homers, 30 doubles, 50 runs and 32 RBIs in 88 games.
But he's set to bat eighth in a stacked AL lineup, which is a spot he hasn't occupied in a big league game since he was a rookie in 2004. But Mauer also batted eighth in the '08 Midsummer Classic at Yankee Stadium, and took it in stride.
"I think you can really shake up this lineup and still come out with a winner," Mauer said. "Hopefully, we score a bunch of runs and get a win for the American League."
Perkins predicted Mauer will get a hit based on his track record, including this year's World Baseball Classic when they were teammates for Team USA and Mauer hit .429 in six games.
"I guarantee he'll get a hit," Perkins said. "He seems to rise to the occasion pretty well. He did it in the World Baseball Classic and I'd imagine we'll see him hit a ball or two hard tomorrow."
So while Mauer will start behind the plate on Tuesday, Perkins doesn't know what his role will be for the AL squad managed by Tigers skipper Jim Leyland.
He could be used as a situational left-hander or pitch an inning, but with Yankees star Mariano Rivera on the roster he won't be asked to close.
"Hopefully, I get into the game," Perkins said. "Whoever I get a chance to face, it'll be fun."
Perkins, 30, has emerged as one of baseball's better closers, with 21 saves and a 1.82 ERA to go with 47 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.
He's thrived since moving to the bullpen in 2011 with a 2.38 ERA over that span after posting a combined 4.81 ERA through his first five years in the big leagues.
"He really has found his niche," Mauer said. "He came up as a starter and went to the bullpen and gained a couple miles per hour. I think he took on that one-inning mentality really well. When he's out there, I don't want to say it, but it looks like a waste of his time. He goes out there and calms his nerves down and comes at you with his good stuff."
With the Twins seemingly out of contention for a third straight year in the AL Central, Perkins has been a hot topic with the non-waiver Trade Deadline looming at the end of this month. But the left-hander said he's trying his best not to focus on the speculation and his strong preference is to play for his hometown Twins.
So for now, Perkins said he's just trying his best to enjoy the moment and is happy to have Mauer along with him at his first All-Star Game.
"Our lockers are next to each other and everything so it's cool," Perkins said. "He's been to so many now, this is his sixth, so he's just been telling me what to expect. So it's just been great to share it together."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.