Twins reliever Capps ready to close in 2012
Back in the summer of 2010, closer Matt Capps was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in a trade with the Washington Nationals for catcher Wilson Ramos and pitcher Joe Testa. Through the end of that first year in Minnesota, Capps was brilliant filling in for the injured Joe Nathan, converting 16 of 18 save opportunities.
Once Nathan returned, Capps was happy to move to the setup role for the Twins at the start of the 2011 season. However, after consecutive blown saves, Nathan removed himself from the position and once again Capps was the Twins closer.
Like many of his teammates, Capps had a tough season in 2011, posting a 4-7 record with a 4.25 ERA. But, the Texas Rangers plucked Nathan via free agency this offseason, so it appears likely that Capps will be a key cog on the back end of games for the Twins once more.
With his role next season a key topic of discusssion among Twins fans, Capps is the subject of this edition of 5 Questions.
1. FSN: Joe Nathan has departed and it looks like you'll be the closer for Minnesota again; How excited are you for that challenge?
CAPPS: Of course I am very excited right now. We should be solid back there, with (Glen) Perkins coming back and guys like Brian Duensing joining us in the 'pen. Last year did not go the way we wanted, and I think we are all motivated to make amends this season. It should be fun, with the pitching staff that we are putting together, and the neat thing is we have starters like (Carl) Pavano, (Nick) Blackburn and (Scott) Baker that can eat up a bunch of innings. I also believe Francisco Liriano is going to have a great bounce-back season for us, too.
2. FSN: Your catcher, Joe Mauer, recently reported that he is back to 100 percent health for the 2012 season. How important is Joe to your team?
CAPPS: Joe is a huge, huge part of our ballclub, so obviously that really is good news. I think if you look back at last season and realize that we lost our No. 3 and No. 4 hitters from our lineup I'm not sure too many teams could have overcome that. Joe is one of the best hitters in all of baseball, but he also plays such an important role with our pitching staff, too. Hopefully the news will be just as good with Justin Morneau because those two guys both make us so much better at the plate and in the field.
3. FSN: How is your offseason training coming along?
CAPPS: I think training is different for everyone on the team, but for me I like to use October and November as my offseason, where I can relax and recharge. But as soon as December rolls around, it's time to get back to it. I hit the weights every week from Tuesday through Saturday and then I like to run all week long here in Atlanta. Sunday is my day of rest, so I will most often use that day to just be with the family and chill. I started playing catch a few weeks earlier this year to really strengthen my arm so I can come into spring training ready to go right away.
4. FSN: What are your favorite things to do in the offseason when you are not training for baseball?
CAPPS: Believe it or not, I really love to do yard work -- there's nothing better than hopping on my riding mower and just checking out for a little while. I also enjoy just being in the yard and working on stuff like digging holes and working on the bushes. This year I even bought a tiller and started working on the ditches to be ready for all the rain we can get (in Atlanta) in the spring. Other than that, I do enjoy getting out to play some golf and I've always loved fishing, too.
5. FSN: What was the best Christmas gift you received?
CAPPS: Well, my best gift this year is yet to arrive, but my wife is due to give birth here in about 15 days. We already know that it is a boy, and we are both just thrilled. It's funny, because most of the gifts we received are for the baby ... so that has been very special.