ST. PETERSBURG -- The Twins are going to use Monday's off-day to skip left-hander Glen Perkins' next turn in the rotation, manager Ron Gardenhire announced on Friday. That means the Twins will now line up Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey for their three-game series against the White Sox that begins Tuesday at the Metrodome The decision to skip Perkins came after he lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his start against the Rays on Thursday night, facing eight batters and giving up five runs (two earned). Following that start, Gardenhire said Perkins looked rattled from the very beginning of his outing.
"We need to give him a bit of a mental break here," Gardenhire said. Perkins is still scheduled to make one more regular-season start on Saturday, Sept. 27, in the second game of a series against the Royals. Left-hander Francisco Liriano will start that series, and Baker is then set to pitch the final game of the season. For now, Perkins will move to the bullpen. Gardenhire said the left-hander will be a relief option later this weekend if the Twins run into an emergency, but the club would prefer not to use him if possible. "We're looking at an arm here that's had a lot of innings," Gardenhire said. "We don't want to go out and try to murder a guy in the bullpen." The Twins' greatest concern recently with Perkins has been whether he is starting to wear down from too many innings. He's 0-1 with a 9.42 ERA in four September starts and hasn't pitched past the sixth in any of those outings. The struggles have come at a time when Perkins has already recorded 179 1/3 innings, between the Majors and Minors, nearly 50 innings more than his career high for a season. He's also coming off an '07 season in which he threw just 48 innings due to a shoulder injury. Perkins was asked after his start Thursday whether he felt fatigue was an issue. "As far as my physical health goes, I feel good," Perkins said. "But maybe I'm trying a little too hard, pressing too much coming off a few bad outings, and not concentrating on making pitches." Gardenhire hasn't eliminated the idea that fatigue might be a factor. But he agreed with Perkins that the problems he endured on Thursday were mostly a cause of trying to do too much with his pitches. "I think with Perk right now, it looks like he is trying to pitch and not make a mistake," Gardenhire said. "When you pitch against what got you going in the first place, and that's attacking, you start making mistakes. I think he's trying to be too fine with his pitches instead of letting it fly. So we'll see what happens."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.