Twins will give newly signed Rafael Perez a shot to start


April 14, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians pitcher Rafael Perez (53) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

When the Twins signed left-hander Rafael Perez to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, it was assumed that he would battle to for a spot in the bullpen.

Perez had a lot of success as a bullpen pitcher, with a career 3.64 ERA with 268 strikeouts in 329 innings.

The Twins plan to stretch Perez out to start in Spring Training even though he’s never started in the big leagues in 338 career appearances with the Indians, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony.

"“He liked the possibility of stretching out and possibly starting for us, which is what he did throughout the Minors,” Antony said. “We just told him if he’s one of our best starters, we’re not going to turn a blind eye to anything. And if not, he’s fine in the bullpen.”"

Perez, 30, missed most of 2012 due to a shoulder injury. He is reportedly healthy and ready for Spring Trainng.

In 2007 Perez posted a 1.78 ERA, over 60 2/3 innings pitched in 44 appearances. ESPN analyst Peter Gammons called him “arguably the best left-handed reliever on the planet.”