FORT MYERS, FLA. -- Casey Fien was among the six Twins player eligible for arbitration during this offseason. There was speculation that Fien could be vulnerable as a 32-year-old who had a shoulder problem that put him on the disabled list in 2015 for the first time in four Twins seasons.
“I wasn’t that concerned about it,’’ Fien said. “I thought I had earned an offer with the way I’d pitched here.’’
The Twins offered all six players arbitration by the Dec. 2 deadline. After that, it was negotiating a number and Fien agreed to a one-year deal for $2.275 million.
And Fien is correct: That money has been well-earned. The right-handed reliever came to the Twins on a minor-league deal in January 2012. He arrived with 11 games in the big leagues for Detroit in six professional seasons.
How’s this for a reliever’s life? Fien was waived twice, released once and re-signed by the Tigers in a 19-day period of March 2010.
Fien was called up on July 8, 2012 by the Twins. He pitched in 35 of 78 games, then led the club with 73 appearances (same as Brian Duensing) in 2013 and also 2014.
Fien threw an awkward pitch and started 2015 with a touch of tenderness in his right shoulder. He was summoned to pitch four times in five games in late April. He was hammered by the Tigers on April 29 and went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.
“First time,’’ Fien said.
He missed a month, came back as ready to take the ball as ever. He couldn’t throw his cutter as often, which might explain the reduction in strikeouts.
Fien has been in Fort Myers since Feb. 1, going later into the morning with his workouts than most pitchers.
“I’m 32,’’ Fien said. “I have to work harder than ever.’’
He’s also been talking with pitchers such as J.T. Chargois and Alex Meyer during bullpen sessions.
“I see them trying to throw 100,’’ Fien said. “I tell them, ‘The manager and coaches know you throw hard. What they want to see are strikes down in the zone.’ ‘’
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Righthanders looking for a 2016 breakthrough in Twins’ bullpen:
*Alex Meyer, 26. If manager Paul Molitor had his druthers, the 6-foot-9 Meyer might have been a reliever to start 2015, and a regressive year in Class AAA avoided.
*J.T. Chargois, 25. Glen Perkins: “Remember Anthony Slama? Chargois hides the ball like Slama, only throwing 10 miles an hour harder.’’
*Nick Burdi, 23. To use 1970s jargon -- “flamethrower.’’ If Burdi throws strikes, he’ll be in Minnesota this summer.