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Updated: February 14th, 2013 5:33pm
Notebook: Manager looks forward to getting look at ex-Indians reliever

Notebook: Manager looks forward to getting look at ex-Indians reliever

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire saw plenty of lefthanded reliever Rafael Perez when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians. "We faced him about every game we ever played in Cleveland," Gardenhire said Thursday. "(Joe) Mauer, (Justin) Morneau - ask those guys. ... He's filthy. He's got great stuff."

Gardenhire is just hoping that Perez's stuff remains as difficult to hit after he underwent shoulder surgery last September. That's because Perez now will be on the Twins' side.

The team has signed the 30-year-old to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to the major league camp. Perez has been a reliever in the big leagues but he served as a starter for most of the first five years of his minor league career and the Twins have agreed to take a look at him as a potential starter.

Gardenhire made it clear he's open to seeing what Perez can do in a starting role. "He's got good stuff, so you know what? Let's see what the best fit is and see how he does, and go from there," Gardenhire said. "He's a quality arm, a quality pitcher. We believe that.

" ... You like a lefty like him, which we've seen him be able to come in and just eat lefties up. We know he can do that, I've watched him do it. You know what? He gives you options. We'll see how he does. Sounds like he's excited to come here and we're definitely excited to have him here."

Perez is expected to arrive on Saturday.

The Twins have no lack of potential starters, but Gardenhire feels that after all the injuries that hit the rotation in 2012 there is no such thing as having too many starters.

"That's what we've got to have," he said. "I think we saw that last year, when nobody could anticipate what happened to our staff. I'm not trying to anticipate that. But options are really good, and competition is really good. I think these guys out there in the clubhouse understand that we want competition, and this guy's definitely competition."

A rainy day

Twins pitchers and catchers were unable to use the main stadium at their spring training complex on Thursday because rain overnight and throughout the day caused the grass to be too slick for drills and created puddles in the infield.

Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks and Trevor May were among the pitchers who did get their bullpen sessions in on the minor league fields and Gardenhire said the Twins did not fall behind schedule because of the rain.

"All the pitchers that needed to throw got to throw," he said. "We still did some of our signs over there. We got some bunting in for the pitchers, which has to happen. And the position players aren't supposed to be here yet anyway, and they got their work in, too. So we got just about everything done, other than some of the fundamentals, covering first base. But they do that a lot, so we're OK."

Although several positions players already have reported, the full squad is not due in until Friday. The first workout for all players will be on Saturday.

The National Weather Service calls for a 70 percent chance of rain in Fort Myers on Friday but mostly sunny and 72 degrees on Saturday.

Another step

Pelfry, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Twins this offseason, threw about 50 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery. The righthander underwent the procedure last May and is confident he will be set to go for opening day.

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson was happy with what he saw from the former Met.

"He's done everything fine," Anderson said. "Nice clean delivery, ball coming out of his hand good. Good day for him. ... Game on. No holding back. ... It's like anyone coming off an injury -- you always tell them, 'If you need a day, we'll give you a day.'"

Gardenhire said veteran's coming back from injury don't present the same issues as young players trying to return.

"The younger guys are the ones who, if they feel something, will hide it," Gardenhire said. "They don't want anybody to know. The veterans, they'll let you know. They'll tell you, 'Hey, I'm a little sore today, maybe I'll back off today and go tomorrow.' That's what you want. You want them to let you know how they're feeling." 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Ron Gardenhire, Liam Hendriks
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