Published 9:01 am Tuesday, February 21, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After getting booed out of Target Field more times than he’d care to remember in 2011, it would be understandable if Minnesota Twins closer Matt Capps grabbed the first airplane out of the Twin Cities and never looked back.

Instead, Capps couldn’t say yes fast enough when the Twins gave him a chance to return.

Much to the chagrin of many Twins fans, general manager Terry Ryan re-signed Capps to a one-year, $4.75 million contract after Joe Nathan left for the Texas Rangers. Now, after perhaps the worst season of his career, the closer’s job is all his.

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“I feel like I let a lot of people down last year, myself, the fans, especially (former GM) Bill Smith and the organization when they made the trade that they made,” Capps said. “They expected me to perform at a level higher than what I did last year and that didn’t happen.”

The right-hander saved just 15 games, the fewest since he became a closer in 2007, and he blew seven other chances. He went 4-7 with a 4.25 ERA and lost his job when Nathan finally returned to full strength from Tommy John surgery.

He didn’t look like the same pitcher who was acquired from Washington at the trade deadline in 2010 for prized catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Capps came over to a new league and stabilized the back end of the Twins’ pitching staff with 16 saves and a 2.00 ERA to help them make the playoffs.

Some minor injuries zapped some of the life from his pitches, and Capps thinks he’ll be back to normal this season.

“When the opportunity came about for me to come back here, I jumped on it as quick as I could,” Capps said.