MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Martin Perez has been the surprise of the season for the Twins so far.

The Twins took a chance on him, and it’s paying off big time.

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The idea of losing Perez, who’s been absolutely terrific for the Twins this season, was really tough to think about.

The Twins signed Perez to a one-year contract this offseason, bringing him in to compete for the 5th and final spot in the starting rotation. They were taking a flier. Perez had the worst season of his career last year – was 2-7 with a 6.22 ERA – was so bad that the Rangers actually took him out of the rotation and moved him to the bullpen. He had a career ERA of 4.63.

But look at him now. He started the season 5-0 and has the 10th-best ERA in the American League. What changed?

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“I worked hard. Down in Venezuela on my ranch, I got all my stuff to get ready for the season and I was running a lot, and doing exercise to get my velocity back, and I think when I got here, they told me we’re gonna start working on my hip, and that’s one thing that helped me a lot,” Perez said. “I’ve got my velocity when I need it, and the one thing that I’ve learned from eight years in, you don’t need to throw hard every time.”

“He’s thrown the ball very well, he’s executed his pitches very well, he’s been open-minded to some new ideas. But they’re things that he’s thought about and talked about and experimented with I think at times in the past, and I think he’s really finding that they’re coming to life and finding good ways to use all of the stuff that he has,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli added.

It was a big week for Perez, who welcomed a son into the world Thursday, then came back in time to pitch Sunday. That could have had something to do with why he wasn’t as sharp as usual, but it was worth it.

“When I saw his face – it was amazing, I was crying, and it’s unbelievable how we grow up and how God gives to us to have a family,” Perez said. “Was a lot going on this last week, but at the same time, I’m happy to have my baby, Martin Jr., come back every time and do my job, and go out there and compete.”

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And it’s a long season – plenty of time left to keep on dominating. The next time Perez is scheduled to pitch is Friday in Seattle.