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New father Fien throws first BP session

Abad, Rogers, O'Rourke among candidates for lefty bullpen spot
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After his teammates threw their first live batting practice sessions of the year on Saturday and Sunday, right-hander Casey Fien threw his first on Monday, just two days after the birth of his son, Shane Maddux Fien, early Saturday.

Fien said everything went well with the birth, and he confirmed the baby's middle name is named after Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, as he's always been a fan of the pitcher. Maddux was also Fien's wife JoAnn's favorite player growing up. The couple's first child, a two-year-old daughter named Jordan, is named after NBA legend Michael Jordan.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After his teammates threw their first live batting practice sessions of the year on Saturday and Sunday, right-hander Casey Fien threw his first on Monday, just two days after the birth of his son, Shane Maddux Fien, early Saturday.

Fien said everything went well with the birth, and he confirmed the baby's middle name is named after Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, as he's always been a fan of the pitcher. Maddux was also Fien's wife JoAnn's favorite player growing up. The couple's first child, a two-year-old daughter named Jordan, is named after NBA legend Michael Jordan.

• Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Gear

"It's going to take some getting used to, getting into a routine with two kids, but we have a lot of support at home," said Fien, whose parents and in-laws are staying with him this spring.

Like Maddux, Fien prides himself on his command, and put it to use on Monday, throwing live batting practice against a group that included Oswaldo Arcia, Max Kepler, Darin Mastroianni and Alex Swim. He said it mostly went well, and he was encouraged by how many strikes he threw.

Fien, though, said one thing he's trying to add this year is more strikeouts, as he saw his strikeout rate drop from 10.6 batters per nine in 2013 to 7.2 in '14 and a career-low 5.8 in '15, despite posting a respectable 3.55 ERA in 63 1/3 innings. He dealt with shoulder woes last year that likely contributed to that drop, but it's become apparent that teams have been swinging more at his pitches in the zone over the last three years.

Fien throws pitches in the strike zone roughly half of the time, and teams have gone from swinging at 70.2 percent of his pitches in the zone in '13 to 73 percent last year, per Fangraphs.com. Players also connected on 77.5 percent of his pitches in the zone two years ago, compared to 87.1 percent last year. Fien thinks it's because hitters are swinging earlier in counts against him, and he's not expanding the zone enough with two strikes.

"I got some swings and misses today, and last year I know my strikeouts were down, so I'm trying to get some strikeouts," Fien said. "That's my focus, pretty much. Still throwing strikes, but better pitches on 0-2 and 1-2 counts. I think it's the [hitters] getting to know me, especially in the division, because they know I'm a strike thrower."

Around the horn
• Twins manager Paul Molitor said he is banning the use of motorized hoverboards this year, as they were a hit among the players late last season but carry an injury risk.

"I just didn't like the direction that it was taking last year," Molitor said. "It was comical when they first came out a little bit, people challenging each other to get on it. Thankfully nothing happened, but it got a little carried away, guys riding them down the batting cages and down the tunnels underneath. Just eliminate the risk."

• First baseman Joe Mauer continues to wear sunglasses while taking live batting practice, and he says it's something he'll try throughout the spring to see if it helps him with the vision issues that he says plagued him over the last two years since suffering his season-ending concussion in 2013.

• Molitor said it's hard to envision a scenario where the Twins don't carry another lefty in their bullpen outside of Glen Perkins. It opens the door for a lefty reliever this spring, with top candidates including Fernando Abad, Taylor Rogers, Ryan O'Rourke and Mason Melotakis.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Casey Fien