Two years later, Perkins is the one arm the Twins know they can count on in the back end of their bullpen. Minnesota and the left-handed setup man agreed Thursday to a four-year contract that adds $10.3 million over three seasons and includes a team option for 2016.
For the first time in his career, Perkins has some level of stability and security.
"I hate using cliches, but it means I can just go out and pitch for the next four years," Perkins said. "That's all that matters now. I can just go out there and pitch. I don't have to worry about anything other than pitching. I don't have to worry about anything like my family and all those good things."
Perkins emerged as a reliable late-inning reliever last season, going 4-4 with a 2.48 ERA in 65 games. He struck out 65 and walked 21 in 61 2-3 innings.
"Everything has changed over the last couple of years," manager Ron Gardenhire said earlier this spring training. "He's content. He understands more about the game than he ever has. He understands what he wants out of the game more than he ever did before."
It was a breakout season that came as a surprise to some after a couple of injury plagued years that included 2009, when Perkins and his agent had the players' association file a grievance against the Twins for sending him to Triple-A Rochester after activating him from the disabled list in August. Perkins thought he should have remained on the major league roster and been sent on a rehab assignment instead. The grievance was later settled.
He was converted from a starter to a reliever and grabbed a role as an overpowering setup man last season. Now with closer Joe Nathan gone to Texas, Matt Capps coming off of a disappointing 2011, starter Brian Duensing moving to the bullpen from the rotation and Joel Zumaya out for the season with elbow-ligament replacement surgery, Perkins is the rock.
"He's got the perfect situation. He's living at home. He grew up a Twins fan," Gardenhire said. "Can't get any better for him and I think it took a while for him to realize how fortunate he was. That's just being in the game and seeing how other people handle it. He's done an awful lot in this game already and he's got a lot more he can do, and he realizes that, believe me. I think he really likes what he's doing."
With a healthy arm, the former University of Minnesota standout and native of Stillwater, Minn., has seen his velocity jump a little and he is comfortable this spring knowing that he has a role with the team from the start. There has even been some talk about Perkins eventually becoming the team's closer.
"I feel like where I pitched last year and where I'll pitch this year that I can impact a game as much, or more, and I'm OK with that," Perkins said earlier this spring. "I like coming into situations where a closer wouldn't typically come in. It is a cliche, but I like to help out the team, and I think I can help out the team the most, for me, this way."
Perkins agreed in January to a $1.55 million salary for this year.