Twins sign LHP Rafel Perez to Minor League deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins signed left-hander Rafael Perez to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the club announced on Thursday. Perez is set to arrive at the Lee County Sports Complex on Saturday.

Perez, 30, is coming off shoulder surgery in September and threw only 7 2/3 innings in 2012. But he’s healthy, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony and will be stretched out to start in Spring Training even though he’s never started in the big leagues in 338 career appearances with the Indians.

“He liked the possibility of stretching out and possibly starting for us, which is what he did throughout the Minors,” Antony said. “We just told him if he’s one of our best starters, we’re not going to turn a blind eye to anything. And if not, he’s fine in the bullpen.”

Before the shoulder injury, Perez was one of the better left-handed setup men in the American League, as he has a career 3.64 ERA with 268 strikeouts in 329 innings. He also posted a 3.25 ERA in 61 innings in ’10 and a 3.00 ERA in 63 innings in ’11.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased with the signing, as he liked what he saw from him against his club. Perez has a career 1.89 ERA in 38 innings vs. Minnesota.

“He’s filthy,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got great stuff. He’s good out of the ‘pen but I like the idea of stretching him out too. So we’ll see what the best fit is for us and go from there. But he’s a quality pitcher and a big league guy.”

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