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This pitcher has government backing
[December 07, 2008]

This pitcher has government backing

Dec 07, 2008 (Detroit Free Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When they are promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, most players probably receive congratulations from their strongest supporters: parents, girlfriends, teammates and college coaches.

Tigers prospect Casey Fien was different. He received a letter from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fien grew up in a suburb of Long Beach, Calif., and describes himself as a strong Schwarzenegger supporter. ("I mean, he's the Terminator," Fien said. "You're going to vote against the Terminator?")

Fien, though, is not merely a voter. His uncle, George Runner, is a Republican state senator from California's 17th District.

About the time Fien earned his promotion, in late July this year, his family gathered for a reunion in Sacramento. Those who attended received a welcome letter from Schwarzenegger to mark the occasion. In it, Schwarzenegger acknowledged two people who were unable to make it: Fien and Runner's daughter, Rebekah, who serves in the U.S. Coast Guard.

"I thought that was cool," Fien said.
The next big family gathering took place last month, as roughly 25 people -- including Runner and his wife, Sharon, a state assemblywoman -- traveled to watch Fien pitch for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.

"We kind of had a mini-family reunion," Runner said in a recent telephone interview. "He's been on the East Coast throughout his pro career, so a lot of us hadn't seen him play since college."

Runner has followed from afar as Fien, a 25-year-old right-hander, has developed into one of the organization's top relief pitching prospects. A strong 2008 season put Fien in a position to contend for a spot on next year's Opening Day roster.

"He's decided to throw his whole self into this, and that's something I appreciate about Casey," said Runner, whose district occupies a vast stretch of land north of Los Angeles. "I see a tremendous level of commitment there. He's a very balanced kid, a regular guy, but yet I think he has a strong desire to excel in the sport."

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