After another lackluster outing on Thursday afternoon, Mike Pelfrey knows he has no choice but to improve his performance.
"My ERA is what, 7.99? That's unacceptable. I really need to focus on being the best clubhouse guy I can be.
"Pitching better is on the table, obviously, but first things first. Are any of the guys moving this weekend? I have a truck."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed that Pelfrey needed to do better.
"I love Pelf, heck, all the boys do here, but when you get to this level, it's about performance, bottom line. Is the chatter there? Is he slappin' 'em on the back when they get into the dugout, saying the right things in the locker room, buying pizzas for the clubbies?"
Pelfrey confirmed that he was already focusing on these aspects of his clubhouse glue guy role, but taking it to the next level was "priority #1."
"The whole pizza thing, I mean, I get 'em all the time, but I'll be honest: it's usually Little Caesar's. I mean, $5 for a large one-topping is a helluva deal. But this isn't the time for $5 pizzas. I'm as aware of it as anyone else. I'm getting Pizza Luce, Cossetta's, Punch, Black Sheep, all the heavy hitters. If somebody wants breadsticks or wings, I'm listening. Got a sign up by the cold tub that says, 'Gluten-free? Talk to me!' Lotta the boys love rhymes and have crippling allergies."
With Alex Meyer tearing up Triple-A and Samuel Deduno getting stretched out, Pelfrey knows that even if he brings a clubhouse vibe not seen since the days of the late Kirby Puckett, it still might not be enough. That isn't going to stop him from trying, though.
"It's amazing to me how many of these guys have bad cellphone plans. They're just getting killed on their data plans and overages. What I'm doing is taking their bills home with me, doing the math, and talking to their carriers to see what we can do. I saved (Glen) Perkins like $200 a month. I honestly don' t know what he was doing."
Gardenhire says these gestures are definitely appreciated, but time is running out.
"I can't keep running guys out there with an 8 ERA. I just can't. But at the same time, you have to look at intangibles. I know the stat geeks hate hearing that, but it's true. Take a look at this."
The Twins manager pulled a stack of bills from his wallet that looked like US dollars, but had a picture of Pelfrey on them instead of a former President.
"He calls it 'Pelfrey Scrip.' You can exchange it for goods and services. This right here is $500 in Pelfrey Scrip. I've gotta get my driveway resealed, and this wad of Mikes will cover that with enough leftover for a night out for me and the missus. Pelf already said he'd drive if we wanted to have a couple bumps.
"He's the best. I hope he can get it turned around."