Perkins’ pitching helps Gophers in recent games, draws national attention

Anthony Maggio

Minnesota pitcher Glen Perkins has a classic case of ants in the pants.

“He has a hard time sitting still,” coach John Anderson said. “He hates sitting in the dugout, he hates coming to the park when he’s not going to pitch (that day). He’s always trying to find ways to occupy his time. He’s a typical lefthander, he’s a little goofy.”

But Big Ten hitters are not very amused.

Perkins is 5-1 on the season, 4-0 in conference play. His 2.03 ERA in the Big Ten is good for fourth in the league. His complete game shutout against Illinois on Saturday where he fanned 15 batters earned him Big Ten player of the week.

Perkins was also named the national pitcher of the week by the NCBWA on Tuesday.

Not too shabby for a redshirt freshman.

“I knew I wanted to be a starter coming in, but to have the role I’ve had so far is pretty exciting and I hope I keep doing as well as I am,” Perkins said.

Before the year started, no one expected Perkins to have the coming out party he’s thrown so far this season. After starting the 2003 campaign in the bullpen, Perkins has evolved into the Gophers’ Friday starter – the one who sets the tone for every series.

“He’s just a kid that keeps impressing you,” former Big Ten Pitcher of the Week C.J. Woodrow said. “He never relaxes, which is kind of a good thing.”

When Perkins first joined Minnesota’s pitching staff, he had what pitching coach Todd Oakes called “an outstanding curveball” and a solid fastball. But since the fall of 2001, Oakes has helped Perkins develop a changeup, which gives him a solid arsenal on the mound.

“If he had a weakness it was we didn’t know if he’d throw enough strikes to be a consistent pitcher like he has been,” Anderson said.

Perkins quickly quelled any fears the coaching staff had of his former control problems. He leads the team with 63 strikeouts, good for second best in the conference.

Even more phenomenal is that he strikes out hitters without studying tendencies of specific batters.

“I just pitch and treat every guy the same,” Perkins said. “I’m not a real in-depth kind of guy. Guys like C.J. will check out scouting reports, I just check out if they steal or not.”

Perkins also has the most durable arm on the staff. He leads the team in innings pitched with 57.1 in just nine appearances.

Against Michigan on April 5, Perkins threw his first complete game in the first contest of a seven-inning double-header.

At Illinois last Friday, Perkins threw his first nine inning complete game.

“The impressive part was that even after the ninth inning it looked like he could go another four or five,” Oakes said.

Added Perkins: “I’ve always been a guy that doesn’t get a sore arm or get tired.”

His rubber arm is likely the cause of his jitters in the dugout. Instead of wanting to rest his arm, Perkins would gladly take the mound out of the bullpen on a day or two of rest.

“We have to slow him down,” Anderson said. “It’s great, but that’s our job as coaches to make sure we’re not doing crazy stuff here.”

Minnesota takes on Northern Iowa this afternoon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Perkins likely will not see any action. He is slated to pitch Friday against Indiana, so the coaching staff wants to keep his arm rested.

What does this mean for Perkins’ teammates?

“You have to find guys like (relief pitcher and team jokester) Nick McCauley,” Anderson said. “Nick’s job is to humor him and keep him from falling asleep on us or going out there to throw more because he’s looking for something to do.”

Anthony Maggio covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]