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Updated: December 14th, 2011 10:44pm
Closer Matt Capps says he 'let a lot of people down' in 2011

Closer Matt Capps says he 'let a lot of people down' in 2011

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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If Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer was the punch line of a 99-loss season, closer Matt Capps was the punching bag.

Capps, with his nine blown saves and 4.25 ERA, walked from the mound to the dugout to a chorus of boos on numerous occasions last season at Target Field, but during last week's winter meetings he signed a one-year, $4.75 million deal with an option for 2013.

Capps will close for the Twins in 2012, whether fans embrace that notion or not, and he says he's determined to right what was wrong in 2011.

"I feel like I let a lot of people down myself -- the ball club, the fans -- with the way a lot of things panned out last year," Capps said in an interview on 1500 ESPN's Talkin' Twins show on Wednesday night. "So the opportunity to come back and kind of do better by everybody, and do better by the trade that was made (in 2010), was very intriguing to me. ...

"I wasn't real sure at the end of the year if the opportunity would be there to come back. When Terry Ryan called and said that there was interest in them bringing me back I tried to jump on it as quick as I could."

Capps added that he wanted to prove "I'm better than what the numbers and things like that showed from last year."

Capps has posted ERAs of 2.28, 3.02 and 2.47 in three of the past five seasons, but in 2011 his strikeout numbers plummeted (from 7.27 K/9 to 4.66), and he allowed 10 home runs in only 65 2/3 innings.

Capps fastball also lost velocity and movement in the second half of the season, and his breaking pitches lacked consistency, per Pitch F/X graphs. Some of this was likely due to forearm and wrist inflammation in late May and early June.

"Playing catch early, I certainly felt it and knew it was there," Capps said. "Once I got loose and kind of the adrenalin of getting in the game, it's not something that every pitch I thought about. But certainly it was there every day for a couple weeks. I finally got on some anti-inflammatories that seemed to help out and helped me through the rest of the year."

How much did the forearm discomfort affect his overall performance?

"That's a tough question to answer and really put a finger on it. I knew it was there, it's something I felt, but it's not something I felt every second of every day. It's not like I was pitching through excruciating pain or anything. It was an uncomfort, and not a real fun thing to work through, but certainly I was able to take the ball and go out and compete. Just maybe not at the level I hoped to or expected to."

A baseball source said Capps did have interest from other teams, including teams willing to give him a shot to close out games. But the Twins provided the best combination of money and opportunity.

Now it's just up to Capps to silence the boos.

"I'd be lying if I said it was easy to be at the park every day with the boos and things like that, but it's part of it," he said. "I'm paid to do a job, and bottom line I wasn't doing the job well."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Matt Capps, Joe Mauer
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