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Perkins returns from DL, records an out in 9th

Club will be careful in usage of former All-Star
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- When left-hander Glen Perkins strolled into the Twins' clubhouse Thursday morning, he saw something he hadn't seen in 16 months -- his name on the lineup sheet.

During a 9-3 loss to Cleveland on Thursday, Perkins was then greeted with a standing ovation from the fans at Target Field, when the bullpen door swung open and he emerged to pitch the ninth inning. The sounds of his Johnny Cash entrance song echoed over the speakers, as he began to throw warmup pitches.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- When left-hander Glen Perkins strolled into the Twins' clubhouse Thursday morning, he saw something he hadn't seen in 16 months -- his name on the lineup sheet.

During a 9-3 loss to Cleveland on Thursday, Perkins was then greeted with a standing ovation from the fans at Target Field, when the bullpen door swung open and he emerged to pitch the ninth inning. The sounds of his Johnny Cash entrance song echoed over the speakers, as he began to throw warmup pitches.

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"It felt like a Major League debut, but different," Perkins said. "I think the emotions were there, the nerves were there that I didn't know if they would be there or not. I went into that not knowing how I was going to feel."

Perkins recorded one out in his first Major League appearance since April 10, 2016. He was charged with two runs on as many hits, while hitting two batters and walking another. He threw 19 pitches, including 10 strikes, in his first stint in the big leagues in 493 days.

In his long-awaited return, Perkins' velocity sat around 89-92 mph. He faced a total of six batters. Still, it exemplified his perseverance during the lengthy path back to club after undergoing left shoulder labrum surgery over a year ago.

"Running in and hearing the fans cheering in that manner, when we were down four runs, was special to me," Perkins said. "For them to cheer for me like that, after everything I have gone through, it felt really good. I appreciate that more than anyone knows."

Thursday marked his first outing at Target Field since Oct. 2, 2015. Perkins, 34, is the club's 32nd pitcher used this season, which is a franchise record.

Though Perkins appeared in the ninth, it remains to be seen what his role will be moving forward for the bullpen. The left-hander made three consecutive American League All-Star teams, while recording 118 saves from 2012-16.

But for Perkins, it is more about returning to the mound and contributing to the club than anything else.

"It's not I've made three All-Star Games and have all these saves, I need to pitch here. I'm not entitled to anything," Perkins said. "My goal is to help wherever I can. To think otherwise would be incredibly selfish on my part. I checked my ego when I had surgery."

Perkins, who appeared in two Major League games last year, has eight Minor League outings under his belt this year. Perkins most recently pitched in three games with Double-A Chattanooga, including consecutive days over the weekend, which signaled the last hurdle in his rehab.

Minnesota manager Paul Molitor admitted the team will have to be careful in the usage of Perkins, particularly with seven games over the next five days. Perkins likely won't pitch more than an inning in an appearance and will be held to around 20-25 pitches.

"It's not a perfect scenario, in terms of how long or how often he can pitch," Molitor said. "But we are close to September, and over the next 10 days, we will use him wherever we see fit. I got three lefties for now, and that's a good thing."

The Twins also placed lefty Dietrich Enns on the 10-day disabled list (shoulder strain) in a corresponding move. The team called up Aaron Slegers from Triple-A Rochester as the starter for the nightcap of Thursday's doubleheader against the Indians.

Enns pitched in relief in the series opener against Cleveland, in which he allowed two runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings. Molitor said Enns felt discomfort in his shoulder, and the team plans to get an MRI.

"He came in yesterday and had some inflammation in that shoulder," Molitor said. "We are going to try and find out some more information and go through the MRI procedure."

Worth noting

Following Game 1 of the doubleheader, the Twins promoted Nik Turley from Triple-A Rochester. To make room on the active roster, the team optioned Buddy Boshers, who recorded two outs and allowed a pair of hits in the first tilt of the twin bill.

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Twins on Thursday.

Minnesota Twins, Glen Perkins