Casey Fien was in Tacoma on Friday after clearing wavers. He could have rejected the assignment once the Mariners decided to outright the right-handed reliever to the Rainiers.
But, for Fien, there wasn’t much of a decision.
“There wasn’t too much of, ‘What do you want to do?’ with my wife,” Fien said. “It was more of, ‘See you in Tacoma.’ It was pretty much ‘I’m going to come here.’ ”
And he’s got some work to do.
He’s hoping for consistent opportunities after opening the season with the Mariners. The wheels came off for him after 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his first two relief appearances against the Astros.
Fien then allowed two runs in two innings on April 7 against the Angels in Los Angeles and four runs without recording an out two days later.
In 5 2/3 innings, Fien had allowed seven runs, all earned. And this was after posting a 5.84 ERA in 12 1/3 innings during spring training. He appeared in 39 games combined for the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers last year.
“We’ve just got to get him back on track,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He’s a strike thrower who has pitched the back ends of some big league games. So that’s what I expect to get him back to.
“He knows that if he pitches the way he is capable of pitching, there’s a spot here (with the Mariners) for him. He made the big league team out of spring training for a reason. He’s got some attributes that can help the major league team win.”
The Mariners signed Fien to a one-year deal in December. They cleared space on their 40-man roster by sending him on an outright assignment on Wednesday, which allowed them to activate Rainiers outfielder Boog Powell from the restricted list.
“I think they want to see me get out there consistently and throw first-pitch strikes,” Fien said. “And throwing my curveball for the first pitch or out pitch.
“I’m just looking to get on a roll and get outs, and get back up to the big league club and help them out.”
The last time Chris Heston pitched a complete game he threw a no-hitter for the San Francisco Giants against the New York Mets.
So combine what Heston did with the Rainiers on Thursday night against El Paso with his first outing for Tacoma — 12 innings pitched, 15 strikeouts, and three runs allowed overall — and you can see why Listach might be beaming over Heston’s prospects in his starting rotation.
“He’s finding his groove,” Listach said Friday. “Yesterday was really impressive. He’s getting back to the form he was in in the big leagues with the Giants. He’s getting back there. And he’s really close.”
Heston was part of the Giants’ 2014 World Series team.
The 29-year-old said his experience is something he hopes is one of his greatest assets to the Tacoma team. The rest of the Rainiers rotation is made up of 24-year-old Dylan Unsworth, 26-year-olds Ryan Weber, Christian Bergman and Sam Gaviglio, and 28-year-old Chase De Jong.
So Heston is the elder statesman.
“We have a young staff, so I hope some of these young guys can come to me with things they might need, or just the experience part of it — because I’ve been through a lot in my career,” Heston said. “So just to help these guys — and any help they might need or any questions they might have — and steer them in the right direction.”
Heston broke spring camp with the 2016 Giants as a reliever before he missed most of the season with an oblique strain. But Heston said he’d prefer to be a starter if Seattle needed one.
Not that he’d dismiss the alternative.
“I’ve always started in my career, so that’s always been my thing,” he said. “But whatever, honestly. Whatever can get me there. However I can help the team is what I want to do.”
Listach said Heston went all seven innings and dominated with his two-seam fastball and changeup in Thursday’s 5-0 victory in the second game of a doubleheader ( after Gaviglio tossed a complete game of his own in a 1-0 loss). Heston used his slider and curveball as well.
“It’s always valuable when you have a guy who has the experience, who has thrown a no-hitter for a World Series champion,” Listach said. “He knows what it takes to win. He’s seen it. He’s been around some winners over there.”
Tacoma begins a three-game series against Albuquerque, starting at 5:05 p.m. Saturday at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Ryan Weber (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will start for Tacoma against righty German Marquez (0-0, 4.91).
The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677