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Twins’ Perez ready for first start

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 5. Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Martin Perez woke up Sunday morning with his hips feeling a bit tight. That, he said, is a good thing — a sign that he was using his hips as he wanted to in his bullpen on Saturday.

“I think that’s key for me,” the Twins left-hander said. “That’s one thing that’s going to help me stay on my line and finish all my pitches.”

Perez will make his first start of the season Monday night, April 15, against the Blue Jays after spending the first two weeks in the bullpen. The Twins have not needed a fifth starter because of the number of off days they’ve had in the early going. So Perez came out of the bullpen.

Although he admitted pitching out of the bullpen was difficult for him, he was on board with the Twins’ plans to piggyback him to begin the year. In three appearances, Perez threw a total of 8 1/3 innings giving up eight runs — seven earned — while striking out 12.

“I don’t have that kind of excuse because I didn’t throw the ball where I wanted,” Perez said. “I think I just did something wrong with my delivery. That’s why you have to come early and find it and watch videos and have pitching coaches and people who want to help you. I think now I made my adjustment, and yesterday I threw a bullpen and it was pretty good.”

Perez tweaked his hips this spring to good results, and he said he feels similar now to how he did then.

As for how long he will pitch Monday, Perez was stretched out this spring as a starter. Out of the bullpen, he threw 82 pitches on March 31, 72 on April 5 and 44 on April 10 in his appearances.

“It’ll be a feel thing I think going into this next outing and seeing where he’s at and truthfully we’ll watch and see where he’s throwing the ball and if he’s throwing the ball well and he looks strong and we have reason to believe that everything is fine and he’s feeling great, I’m sure we’ll have a little bit longer leash,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Twins settle into routine

The Twins are happy to finally be settling back into a routine. Sunday marked their second game of a scheduled 12 in as many days after the season began with five scheduled off days and a postponement on Friday.

“It’s not a typical baseball schedule that we’ve had so far, so (we’re) spending a lot of time thinking about how to keep our guys not just physically ready to play but also in a good frame of mind to be ready when they go out there,” Baldelli said.

But though the Twins are settling into a schedule with more normalcy, there could be more weather issues ahead. The extended forecast calls for rain Wednesday and Thursday.

Briefly

Devin Smeltzer was named the Twins’ minor league pitcher of the week and Travis Blankenhorn the player of the week. Smeltzer, in two starts with Double-A Pensacola, is 2-0. He hasn’t given up a run in 14 innings and has struck out 17. Blankenhorn, through eight games entering Sunday, was hitting .321/.424./.500 this year at Class-A Advanced.