TigsTown: You get the opportunity to head to big league spring training as a member of the 40-man roster this year. How has that impacted the manner in which you approached your off-season preparations?
Casey Fien: I've been prepared every time I go into spring training and I don't think I'm going to change much. Maybe work more on location than making sure my velocity is up. Location is key, velocity will come.
TT: Did the time spent in Puerto Rico change your off-season activities at all?
CF: No not at all, because last year I was on the Arizona Fall League and it prepared me for the PR League.
TT: Though you didn't get a chance to pitch much while in Puerto Rico, what was the experience like; both from a baseball and a cultural standpoint?
CF: Even though it's winter ball, the owners of the teams were there to win and that's it. If you don't produce they will find someone that can. Puerto Rico itself is beautiful, never seen so much green. The waterfalls were nothing like I've ever seen. All in all it was a great experience.
TT: What was it like to get ready for your first game in the big league locker room and head down to the bullpen to wait for the later innings for the first time?
CF: I tried to make like any other game that I was getting ready to play, but in reality it wasn't. I was trying to act cool, but I found myself focusing on everything but the game and who we were playing. But once that first pitch was thrown I was locked in and ready for any situation I was going to be thrown in.
TT: And lastly, how about that first appearance? Just how big were the butterflies?
CF: Like I said, once that first pitch was thrown I was locked into the game. I felt ready and just focused on what I do best and throwing strike one. You wait your whole life for this moment and I felt like I was up for the challenge. I wasn't going to back down from anybody.
TT: Anytime you move up a level, there are things to be learned and improvements to make in your game, and I can only imagine that is magnified once you get to the big leagues. What were the biggest things you took away from your time in Detroit last year, and what have you tried to do to improve yourself as a result?
CF: Everyone that's in the big leagues plays baseball at a more consistent level. A hitter does not miss mistakes that the pitcher throws. And the pitchers rarely miss their spots, unless you throw 99 mph then their allowed too. For me I need to hit my spots with all my pitches on a more consistent level.
TT: Was there anybody with the Tigers that sort of took you under your wing last year in Detroit?
CF: The bullpen is a team within a team and they all took me in. You spend the whole game out there with each other and get to know everyone. The conversations that go on in the bullpen are priceless.
TT: Throughout your minor league career, you didn't really experience much failure; succeeding at just about every level. As a result of that, how can you prepare yourself for potential failures and set backs against the world's best players?
CF: I have had failures, when I was with the whitecaps I had a 5.40 ERA. Last year with Toledo I was around a 6 in my first 20+ innings. It's all about making adjustments through out year and finding something that works. There is always something to work on and make yourself better.
TT: Most Tigers fans had the chance to see you last year, but it is always more interesting to hear a player describe themselves. Can you describe yourself as a pitcher, both in terms of your arsenal and mentality on the mound?
CF: I am a totally different guy on the field than off. When I cross those lines it's all about the hitter and I. It's either me or the hitter that will succeed and I'm going to do anything to make sure it's me that will be the victor. My best pitch is my fastball, 2 and 4-seem that work on both sides of the plate. I love to pitch in with 2 strikes and make them hit my pitch.
TT: You have experienced just about every level of the organization and likely worked with just about everybody in the system. Who are some of the people – players or coaches – that you can identify as having helped you the most, and what did they do that made such an impact on you?
CF: Ray Burris, Tom Brookins, Larry Parish, and AJ Sager. Each one of these coaches at one point brought me into their office and gave me advice about how to make me better. Without these individuals I would not be where I'm at. I'm very stubborn and never ask for help but these coaches sat me down and forced me to listen. And when they talk, you listen.
TT: There are a plethora of talented relievers coming up through the minor league ranks right now. What kind of advice would you give them having gone through the process of climbing the ladder and making your MLB debut?
CF: Always try and make yourself better. You only have so many throws a day to work on something, make it count. And never talk back to your coaches, they are the ones that do your evaluations.
TT: Starting to wrap things up, what type of goals have you set for yourself as we head to the 2010 season?
CF: Make the team out of spring training and be the guy when the game is on the line.
TigsTown would like to thank Casey for taking time out of his 2010 season preparation to speak with us and give our readers some insight into his career and his goals. We wish him the best of luck in his first spring training as an official member of the 40-man roster, and we look forward to him helping the Tigers win over the next several seasons.