In his first season with the Minnesota Twins, right-hander Mike Pelfrey was given a corner locker in the clubhouse, a spot typically reserved for a veteran. While Pelfrey was indeed entering his eighth season last year, he was still a newcomer in Minnesota. Yet it didn't take long for the Twins' younger players to gravitate toward Pelfrey, who served as a mentor and a leader throughout the 2013 season. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why Pelfrey's teammates from last year's club were so excited to hear the news that the 30-year-old veteran re-signed with the Twins as a free agent, inking a two-year, $11 million contract. "He's one of the strongest clubhouse guys that I've played with," said closer Glen Perkins. "He was really good last year and it was hard for him to get too involved because he was only signed to a one-year deal. So I think now that he's here for two, that'll be a good thing. He'll be able to assert himself in here a little more and be a little more comfortable doing it." Pelfrey's influence among the Twins' younger pitchers has even rubbed off on some of those who have yet to pitch in the majors. Right-hander Alex Meyer is Minnesota's top pitching prospect and could make his big league debut at some point this season. If he does, he may share a locker room with a guy he learned a lot from last spring. "I was really excited about Pelfrey coming back. I really like Mike a lot. He talked to me quite a bit at spring training, took me out to dinner a couple times just to talk and get to know each other," Meyer said. "(Pitching coach) Rick Anderson called me and told me, he goes, 'I'll put you in the same group in spring training as Pelfrey so he can show you the ways.' I'm excited to go out there and be around those guys." In his first year after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Pelfrey was 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts with the Twins. Those stats certainly won't wow anybody, but Minnesota felt Pelfrey got stronger as the year went on and as he was further removed from the elbow surgery. After his ERA rose to nearly 7.00 in late April, Pelfrey stabilized things on the mound during the middle of the season. He posted a 3.60 ERA in the month of August and was able to stay healthy through the entire year -- a positive sign for someone coming off a major elbow surgery. The hope now for Minnesota is that Pelfrey will enter the 2014 season even stronger than he was at the end of 2013. There's no doubt the Twins need him to pitch deeper into games than he did last year, when he reached the seven-inning mark just two times in his 29 starts.
Twins' Pelfrey plans to take game to another level in 2014
Fox Sports North | Feb 4