Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Twins Fan Forum with Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki

The Twins hosted another Fan Forum phone call on Tuesday night, this time featuring closer Glen Perkins and catcher Kurt Suzuki. I took some notes, and I thought I'd kind-of, sort-of transcribe them. My usual caveat: keep in mind, I'm a horrible transcriptionist, my notes are hard to read, my hand cramped up halfway through, and my dog needed to be let out in the middle of it. All the questions and answers written here are rough estimations of what was really said, and most likely somewhat abbreviated. In other words, I apologize in advance for any mistakes in this.

General impressions: Both Glen and Kurt sound like great guys who I would love to go have beers with. Of course, they answered every question as positively as they could, but they genuinely sounded like they were happy to be talking with fans. And I noticed that Glen said something about fishing in just about every answer he gave; it's hard to tell if he fishes too much, or not enough. I'm going to say that he'll say "not enough."

Question for Glen: You stay in Minnesota all year-round, how was your winter?
Glen's Answer: Cold! Coldest in memory, but it's a no-brainer to stay in Minnesota.

Q for Kurt: You're from Hawaii and California. What's it like in Hawaii in the winter?
Kurt's A: It's always the same: about 80-85, humid, sunshine. When it rains, it rains for 10 minutes. Paradise.

Q for K: You're on a new team and taking over for Joe Mauer. Is he helping you prepare to work with a new pitching staff.
K's A: Joe and I are locker mates. We have conversations daily about pitchers. Joe's a leader. It's never easy to replace someone. I have so much respect for his accomplishments. I'm glad I get to pick his brain and get to know the pitching staff.

Q for G: How much will you miss having Joe as your catcher?
G's A: Joe was great, but so far I'm very impressed with Kurt's pitch framing. I like throwing to him. He'll handle the staff well. It'll also be great to get Joe's bat in the lineup more often.

Q for K: Does the fact that you faced Twins pitchers when you were with the A's help you know them now?
K's A: Facing them helps a little, and you always have scouting reports. But it's important to get to know their personalities, who wants to be pumped up, who needs to be calmed down.

Q for G: You're a veteran on the team. How does that affect your responsibility to help the younger guys?
G's A: I'm glad to show the young guys and new guys that the Twins do things the right way, the Twins way. Doing this is on my shoulders.

Q for K: How many offers did you get this off-season, and what was it about the Twins that made you want to sign here?
K's A: There were some offers. I've always liked and respected the Twins organization. They do things the right way. It's a great team, great city, great fans.

Q for G: You've made the transition from a starter to a closer. Is there a difference if your off-season preparation, both mentally and physically?
G's A: Not much mentally -- I wasn't a very good starter, so I probably didn't have a starter mentality. But physically, I focus on being able to get ready faster. I don't have to worry about having the arm strength to throw 100 pitches, so I can work on being ready faster.

Q for K: Last year the Twins hitters had a lot of strike outs. What are the coaches doing in Spring Training to reduce the number of strike outs this season?
K's A: Not sure. The coaches do a great job of getting the guys ready. Strike outs happen. You try to reduce them, and there's a lot of talent in the room. Guys just have to stay within themselves, and good things will happen.

Q for G: What does it feel like on Opening Day?
G's A: Cold! Nah, it's awesome. It should be a national holiday. Even though it may be chilly, the grass is so green. The stands are full, and it's a fun, festive atmosphere.

Q for K: How do you work out in the off-season?
K's A: I play with my daughter -- lift her over my head and stuff. Just kidding. I do strength and conditioning programs. I condition like I'm preparing to play 162 games. As a catcher, I don't really expect to play 162 games, but you never know. Conditioning is a year-round process.

Q for G: You got to experience the All Star Game last year. What was it like? And what do you think about it coming to Target Field this year?
G's A: It was the experience of a lifetime. As a kid, you dream about standing next to the best players in the game. I hope I can do what it takes to make it back there this year with Target Field hosting it. Can't describe how cool it would be to play it at home. It was a great honor last year; being able to go when it's at Target Field would be infinitely better.

Q for K: How are you dealing with the transition to a new team?
K's A: There are challenges with leaving. I some experience with that when I went to Washington. Facing other teams helped me get to know hitters around the league.

Q for G: There are two outs in the ninth inning. Who do you most fear facing?
G's A: The hitter that makes me most uncomfortable is Miguel Cabrera. You never know what he's looking for and he's so strong he can hit just about anything. It's hard to know what to throw him. The hitter who hits me most is Carlos Santana from the Indians. I always seem to face him, and he seems to always get a hit off me.

Q for K: How do you prepare for wear and tear on catchers, like we saw in Joe?
K's A: It's tough, but you can't really tell with Joe's Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. But you get foul balls off the mask, your knees wear out. It's tougher than it looks. Your legs go slowly grinding away. But it drives you to remain fresh.

Q for G: How's the knee after your surgery this off-season?
G's A: 100% It's great. A week after the surgery, I was out in a fishing boat, standing and balancing. I worked on the strength, and now it's an afterthought. It couldn't have gone any better. I injured it in July, but played through it.

Q for K: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
K's A: Defense first. I take pride in my defense. Last couple years have been a little tough offensively. I take pride in taking starters 7, 8 innings with no runs, and get to Perk with a lead. As a hitter, I like to put the bat on the ball, I won't strike out too much. I do love to hit.

Q for G: What's it like to put on a Twins jersey every day?
G's A: Awesome. It's an honor to put on the same uniform as the players I watched as a kid at the Metrodome -- Kirby, Hrbek, Jack Morris. I had a book as a kid about the Twins.

Q for K: Who was your least favorite pitcher to catch?
K's A: Henry Rodriguez. He threw 100 miles an hour straight into the ground. I would've hated to stand in the box against him, and he sure was hard to catch.

Q for G: How did going to Stillwater High School help you become a Twin?
G's A: That was a long time ago. The coaches there did a great job, but going to the University of Minnesota really helped me learn what it takes for a professional lifestyle.

Q for K: What do you think about the new play at the plate rules?
K's A: We'll have to see how it plays out so we can get more clarity on it. It won't really affect my game because I'm not the type of guy who blocked the plate. I'm not the biggest guy, so I always give a lane to the plate and try to make tag plays.

Q for G: How do you feel about the guys who were gone and are now back?
G's A: It's fun to have Bartlett and Kubel back. But I have a special friendship with Guerrier. It's exciting to have these guys back.

Q for K: Do you talk with managers about motivating pitchers?
K's A: I really prefer to talk player to player, getting to know the pitchers on a personal level. I like talking, hanging out, developing a bond, and also going out in game situations.

Q for G: You played in the Metrodome as a Gopher and as a Twin. How do you feel about it being torn down?
G's A: Sad. As a kid, I watched a lot of games there, and there was the spirit of all those great former players in the clubhouse. But Target Field is awesome, and playing baseball outside is awesome. It was time for it to go, but it's still sad.

Q for K: Have you had a chance to catch any of the young Twins pitching prospects? How are they?
K's A: Only Kyle Gibson so far. He's pretty good. Heavy sinker, nice slider. Could be devastating for hitters. I'm impressed. He'll be in a good battle for that 5th spot.

Q for G: Do you have to adjust your mindset if you're asked to get 4 or 5 outs rather than 3? Also, is it different if you're facing the heart of the order rather than the bottom?
G's A: You do have to adjust your mindset. [He made some fishing reference that I didn't understand -- something about going out to catch one kind of fish and actually catching another kind.] There's nothing like going out there with the game on the line, and you have to try to get yourself pumped up that much when you go in for longer.

Q for both: What are meals like on game days?
G's A: I'd prefer more fish [as in fish he caught]. I like chicken breast. And Chipotle.
K's A: I like to mix it up. Sandwiches and stuff. I don't like to eat a lot on game days -- that makes me sleepy. I don't want to get too full.

Q for both: Has Kurt razzed Glen yet about the homer he off you in college?
G's A: I'll never forget that. That was huge it went into a pond outside the field or something like that.
K's A: I hit that with my eyes closed. Just kidding. Glen mixes up his pitches really well, so you have to really focus to get a hit off him. I just focused on one.

Q for G: Do you use sabermetrics and PitchFx to figure out how to pitch to hitters?
G's A: I'd like to use that stuff for more fishing. Actually those things are more for players as a whole rather than for situational stuff. Scouting reports are better for pitch selection and situations. I love sabermetrics, but they're for bigger sample sizes.

Q for both: What were your impressions on the expanded replay used the other day?
K's A: Took too long.
G's A: I was already off fishing by the time it happened.
K's A continued: As a concept, I can see how you want to get the calls right, but it takes away the human element. Sometimes you need that so you can catch some breaks that will help you win games and get you to the playoffs. But you do want to get the calls right. We'll see how it plays out. However, in Target Field in April on a cold day if takes 2 1/2 minutes to make the call, players won't like that.
G's A continued: I've always been pro-getting the call right. But Kurt makes a good point. I never thought about a cold day. My arm would get cold in a hurry if I have to stand there for 2 1/2 minutes. They got to do what they can to keep the game moving along.

Q for K: With all the talk of concussions, what's been your experience? And what's your view on equipment and neck-strengthening exercises?
K's A: I've never had major issues. I've had my bell rung a couple times. I don't know if there's anything to be done. You get 90mph pitches fouled off your facemask. It's part of the game. I guess that's why they call them tools of ignorance.

Q for both: What's it like to work with great former players like Paul Molitor and Rod Carew as coaches?
G's A: They have this calming influence. Honored to have great players parlay their experience into coaching.
K's A: I'm in awe to talk to them on a daily basis. They've been there before, they've been through the ups and downs. They can talk about their successes. I'm blown away to have them around, they make you a better player.

Q for K: What do you do when a young pitcher shakes you off?
K's A: I'm not a fan of being adamant about my pitch selections, so I'll go talk to him to find out why he wants to throw what he wants to throw. There's no sense in making him throw something he doesn't want to. If he can't throw a pitch with conviction, it's no good to anybody. It makes all the difference in the world if his heart is in the pitch.


JB_Iowa said...

Great stuff.

Really appreciate the care you take to get this all down.

JimCrikket said...

Agree with JB. Thanks for the work you put in to write this up.

Brooke said...

This was a great Q&A, I really learned a lot. Thanks for posting. In return I saw some pretty good baseball mottos that you could add to your blog, if it's okay I'll pos them here: Baseball Slogans

thesportsdailylive said...