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Twins can’t afford to lose ailing Fien

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sports Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

DETROIT — Casey Fien has become one of the most valuable members of the Minnesota Twins bullpen. They hope Fien won’t be out long after a scary incident in Detroit on Sunday.

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Fien was struck on his pitching arm by Victor Martinez’s line drive during the eighth inning. Fien managed to pick up the ball and bounce a throw to first for the out but was immediately removed from the game. He was diagnosed with a right arm contusion.

“He took a pretty good whack right on the muscle,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It didn’t look like it got any bone but it wasn’t pretty. It was black and blue and hit right on a vein at the top of the muscle. He was proud of himself. He thought he had a bigger arm.”

Relying on his cut fastball, Fien has allowed runs in just two of his 16 appearances this season. He’s 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA and five holds.

Fien has emerged as Ron Gardenhire’s main right-handed option when protecting eight-inning leads before closer Glen Perkins gets the ball.

“Casey’s very intense and he’s found the pitch of the decade — the cutter,” Gardenhire said. “His cutter is his pitch now. If you bring him in the game and go right at ‘em, what is he going to throw first pitch? A cutter. He can locate it on either side of the plate. He can front door a right-hander with it and cut it in on the hands of a lefty.”

Fien picked up the pitch in 2008 from former major leaguer Ricky Bones while playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. Fien was trying to work his way into the majors in the Detroit Tigers’ organization at that time.

“He thought it would be a good pitch for me,” Fien said. “When I was here in Detroit, (former pitching coach) Rick Knapp wanted me to pick up another pitch. I talked to Ricky Bones and he showed me how to throw the cutter. It was pretty good from day one.”

Virtually everything Fien has thrown this season has been effective. He is the only Minnesota pitcher with more than two appearances to not allow a home run and he’s only walked two batters in 15 1/3 innings. He’s given up just one earned run in 12 1/3 innings this season while pitching the eighth or later in a game.

“You put him in those situations and now it’s pretty simple to go to him,” Gardenhire said. “I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Notes, quotes

RECORD: 17-19

STREAK: Won one

NEXT: Tuesday — Red Sox (LHP Felix Doubront, 1-3, 5.09 ERA) at Twins (RHP Ricky Nolasco, 2-3, 5.64 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

n 1B Joe Mauer served as the designated hitter for the second straight game on Sunday and was 1-for-3 with a walk. Mauer, who scored the tying run in the eighth on an outfield error, missed the previous five games with back spasms. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer should be able to play first base during the opener of the three-game series against Boston on Tuesday.

n RHP Ricky Nolasco has recorded two consecutive quality starts after a rocky beginning to his Twins career and looks to continue that trend against Boston on Tuesday. Nolasco held Baltimore to three runs in a complete-game effort on May 2, then limited Cleveland to three runs in six innings on May 7 while notching a season-high nine strikeouts. Those outings reduced Nolasco’s ERA to 5.64. He’s 2-2 with a 5.24 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox.

n RHP Samuel Deduno allowed three runs in six innings and took a no-decision after the Twins rallied against Detroit on Sunday. He threw 97 pitches and got stronger as the game went on, recording four of his five strikeouts in his final two innings. Deduno had been rocked in his two previous career starts at Comerica, allowing 13 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in two losses.

n C Josmil Pinto had two hits, scored two runs and knocked in another at Detroit on Sunday. Pinto received the start with regular C Kurt Suzuki getting the day off. Pinto has five homers and 11 RBIs in 29 games this season. He will also continue to get chances to play as the designated hitter now that Joe Mauer has recovered from back spasms.

n SS Danny Santana could wind up being the team’s regular CF if Aaron Hicks doesn’t break out of his batting slump. Santana had a pinch-hit, RBI single on Sunday and stayed in to play center. Santana, who has a hit in six of his last seven games, played 23 games in center field during his seven-year minor-league career. “We’re going to start putting him out there and see what happens,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

n RHP Anthony Swarzak did some tinkering prior to Saturday’s appearance in Detroit and that led to his best outing of the season. Swarzak tossed four shutout innings in relief, allowing just one base runner, after giving up three runs in one-third of an inning at Cleveland on Thursday. Swarzak felt he was overthrowing against the Indians and worked on his mechanics during a bullpen session.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I’ve said all along, we never feel like we’re out of it. It may look like we’re out of it but I always feel we’ve got something in us. Watching them in there today, those boys were getting after it pretty good — some big at-bats, some big hits and it was a really nice win. It was a good way to go home to an off-day.” — Manager Ron Gardenhire, after the Twins rallied late to defeat the Tigers Sunday.

Roster report

MEDICAL WATCH:

n RHP Casey Fien (right arm contusion) was struck by a line drive on May 11 and was forced to leave the game. X-rays were negative and he’s considered day-to-day.

n 1B Joe Mauer (back spasms) left the May 4 game and missed games May 5-9. He is listed as day-to-day. He took swings in the batting cage on May 9. He served as the designated hitter for the second straight game on May 11. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer should be able to play first base during the opener of the three-game series against Boston on May 13.

n OF Sam Fuld (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list May 8.

n LF Josh Willingham (left wrist contusion) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7. He began light rehabilitation April 18. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said April 25 that his wrist feels better. He complained of continued soreness following his cage session May 3 and will continue to rest until the pain dissipates.

n RF Oswaldo Arcia (sore right wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 5. He took swings prior to the game April 25 and felt no effects of his sore wrist. He was sent on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Rochester April 26. Arcia has had no setbacks on his rehab assignment and it’s possible he could re-join the team the week of May 5-12.

n RHP Mike Pelfrey (strained left groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 2.

ROTATION:

RHP Ricky Nolasco

RHP Kevin Correia

RHP Phil Hughes

RHP Kyle Gibson

RHP Sam Deduno

BULLPEN:

LHP Glen Perkins (closer)

LHP Caleb Thielbar

RHP Anthony Swarzak

LHP Brian Duensing

RHP Casey Fien

RHP Jared Burton

RHP Michael Tonkin

RHP Matt Guerrier

CATCHERS:

Kurt Suzuki

Josmil Pinto

INFIELDERS:

1B Joe Mauer

2B Brian Dozier

SS Danny Santana

3B Trevor Plouffe

INF Eduardo Nunez

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Jason Kubel

CF Aaron Hicks

RF Chris Colabello

CF Eduardo Escobar

OF Chris Parmelee

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