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Lefty Perez tests shoulder from the mound


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Left-hander Rafael Perez threw his first bullpen session on Sunday since signing a Minor League deal with the Twins earlier this week.

Perez joined the club on Saturday and is still on a throwing program to rehab from shoulder surgery he had in September. It was just the second time he's thrown off the mound since the surgery, and he'll continue to build up strength from there. The club plans to stretch him out as a starter before deciding if he'll be in the rotation or the bullpen this season.

"We have plenty of time," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So, we'll see how he is by the end of spring. I know he talked about getting stretched out, so we'll see how that goes. The first part is where we can get him in a game, and we'll go from there. So, we're guarded, but everyone says he feels great."

Before the shoulder injury, the former Indian was one of the better left-handed setup men in the American League; he has a career 3.64 ERA with 268 strikeouts in 329 innings. He also had a 1.38 ERA against the Twins in 38 innings, with his slider being his out pitch against left-handed hitters such as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

"That's what made him nasty," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "He threw a little two-seamer and four-seamer but his slider was the pitch our guys hated to see."

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