FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If it seems a bit odd that the Minnesota Twins' best relief pitcher doesn't touch a weight during the offseason, well. ...
That's because it is a bit odd, compared to his peers. But it seems to be working.
For the second straight offseason, the only weights Glen Perkins picked up -- aside from standard shoulder exercises and stretch bands -- were a case of racquetballs and a padlock for his locker at the pool.
"I wanted to be as ready as I could for baseball and not feel like I was in the weight room all winter," said Perkins, who recently signed a three-year, $10.3 million extension after emerging as the Twins' most reliable late-inning reliever.
Coming off shoulder discomfort in 2009, Perkins hired a noteworthy personal trainer to get him in top shape for 2010. That workout regimen consisted of full-body workouts in the gym multiple times per week, which Perkins said led to him being in the best shape of his life, physically.
But it didn't translate to being in top baseball shape.
"I wanted to come in and prove that I was healthy," Perkins said. "I got into great shape, but I was in horrible baseball shape. I really was. All that stuff, it really showed me that it's not how hard you work, or it's not how much you work, it's what you're doing."
After a mostly miserable 2010 season where Perkins saw his Triple-A ERA soar above 9.00 at one point, and knowing he was out of minor league options, he went back to the drawing board.
"I just wasn't big on going in the weight room and kicking my butt and sweating it out, so I figured I'd try swimming. I swam when I was a kid, like in the river and stuff. I heard a lot of good things about it, so I went and swam. One thing leads to another, and it led to a great year."
From 2010 to 2011, Perkins' average fastball rose in velocity from 92 to 94 mph, and his slider appeared to have more depth -- factors that helped lead to a 2.48 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.
"It's kind of the thing where you have a bad year you change things, you have a good year you do the same thing," Perkins said. "This winter I felt that I wanted to do a little bit more."
So he added racquetball, several days per week, to go along with swimming and his daily range-of-motion shoulder exercises. Perkins said he would do some sort of cardio workout -- racquetball or swimming -- roughly four days a week. He also played catch every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
"Racquetball is explosive, and I like the idea of the quick bursts," Perkins said. "It takes your mind off actually running, or when you're sitting on a treadmill just grinding it out. To be able to get exercise, to get some cardio in by doing that kind of stuff, it suited me a lot better than anything else."
Perkins added, "My main focus was my arm, making sure my arm was ready. And the other stuff, if I only had time to do one thing I would make sure I threw. I would make sure I got my shoulder-weight workouts in and throw. And that was my priority. For the last two years, that's been my priority, to make sure my arm's in good shape first and foremost. ...
"I've done more (shoulder weights, arm bands) in the last two years than I did the rest of my life, far and away. Infinitely more. I do at least once a day, every day now."
Offseason routines vary for each player, but pitchers typically take 2-3 weeks off at the beginning of October before starting a workout regimen.
Nick Blackburn, aside from standard shoulder weight exercises, rarely lifts at all in the offseason, "mostly because I'm always rehabbing," he joked.
Matt Capps is known to do a fair amount of lifting, especially with his lower-body.
Brian Duensing usually lifts five days a week in the offseason, with less weight and more reps -- full-body workouts, with cardio mixed in regularly as well. Later in the offseason Duensing does 2-3 weeks of more heavy lifting, to bulk up. In the final weeks of the offseason, he then stops lifting so he doesn't feel too bulky when camp begins.
The main goal for all pitchers is to be in as good of physical condition as possible without losing flexibility and arm whip. And that's what Perkins believes he has accomplished the last two offseasons by dropping the weights in favor of swimming and racquetball.
"Some of it was probably arm issues that I had carried over from 2009 to 2010," Perkins said. "But I got in great shape, I did all the shoulder stuff, I did all the stuff to get my rotator cuff and all that in good shape, played long toss. And I lost velocity from '09 to '10, which I think was because I lost flexibility. ...
"I loved the shape that I was in. But for me, it wasn't conducive to baseball."
Twins 6, Phillies 4 in Clearwater, FL
• Twins' spring record: 7-6
• Justin Morneau took the two-hour bus ride in order to get a few more at-bats, but he wound up finishing 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
• Josh Willingham went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs.
• Chris Parmelee finished 2-for-3 with a three-run homer.
• Starting pitcher Jason Marquis was roughed up for the third straight outing, allowing four earned runs on eight hits in four innings. Marquis walked two and struck out one. The good news is he induced 11 groundballs out of 19 balls put in play (58%), which is one of the reasons the Twins brought him in.
• Most of the Twins' offensive damage was inflicted on Phillies starter Roy Halladay, who gave up five earned runs on seven hits, a walk and two homers in just 2 2/3 innings.
• Span (stiff neck) went 3-for-4 with three singles in his return to the lineup Wednesday.
• Nishioka (strained left pinky) singled in four trips in his return.
• The Twins announced Wednesday that Steve Pearce will miss at least a week with a strained left calf. Pearce was just 2-for-15 with a walk prior to the injury, although the Twins like his potential as a power hitter from the right side of the plate. He will almost certainly start the season at Triple-A Rochester.
2: Twins minor leaguers who received 50-game suspensions this week for taking banned substances -- Yeison Florentino and Ezequiel Zarzuela. According to HardballTalk.com, Florentino tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, and Zarzuela for Stanozolol.
50%: Marquis' groundball rate through three spring outings, which matches his career rate, but falls shy of the 55% mark he posted last year.
3:7: Marquis' strikeout-to-walk ratio this spring.
.136: Morneau's batting average so far this spring.
Thursday: vs. Pirates, 12:05 p.m. RHP Scott Baker vs. LHP Jo-Jo Reyes
Friday: vs. Orioles, 12:05 p.m. TBD vs. TBD
Friday: @ Red Sox, 7:05 p.m. TBD vs. TBD