Posted at 7:00 AM on June 8, 2009
by David Zingler
The Twins opened the season with a lot of uncertainty in their bullpen. We knew Joe Nathan would be the closer and not much else. Two months into the season, the situation is still evolving. One of the players currently auditioning for a role is journeyman Sean Henn. The 28-year-old lefthander was called up from Triple A Rochester on April 21 and - Saturday night's loss aside - has pitched well when given a chance.
Henn took a post batting practice break to discuss his career and season with me last week.
DZ: You've been with the Twins for a few weeks now, what are your impressions so far?
HENN: The team is what I expected after meeting a lot of the guys in (spring training) camp. It's a group of young guys who want to have fun. When it's time to go to work, they do that.
DZ: Have you had a chance to go out around town at all?
HENN: Not a whole lot. The times where we were in town - I was downtown - I seemed to run into a lot of the visiting guys. I tried to stay to myself for the most part when we are at home.
DZ: A lot of the fans don't know you very well; could you just give a quick overview of your career - where you've been and that kind of stuff?
HENN: I started in '01 - I was drafted by the Yankees out of a junior college in Texas and was with (their organization) until April of '08. I got designated (for assignment) when (Jorge) Posada got hurt. The Padres claimed me off of waivers; I spent the month of May and a little bit of June in San Diego, got sent down and signed with these guys in December.
DZ: Could you just take us through the process of signing with the Twins; why you chose them?
HENN: I was a free agent; my agent was just fielding calls from different teams. With free agency - in my shoes - I know the big name guys do it a little bit different. When you are looking to sign a minor league deal and trying to find a job out of camp, you have to pick and choose when you want to sign. You don't want to sign too early and then have that team fill up with lefties, in my case because then the competition becomes that much more difficult. And you don't want to sign too late when teams aren't interested in you anymore. I had a few teams out there and the Twins are a great organization - they're young, they like to have fun - I think a lot people in the baseball world see that. They are very consistent and they do things right.
DZ: The Twins are known - more than some other teams - for going to Triple A when they need help instead of looking outside. Did that factor into your decision?
HENN: Definitely. I was with an organization for 7 years that's big on just going out and signing somebody. They definitely gave me my fair share of opportunities to do it there, it just didn't work out. That was definitely one of the things that I took into consideration that "hey, so what if you don't make the team out of camp, go to Triple A, throw well and you have just as good of opportunity as anybody else to get the call. Fortunately, it worked out.
DZ: When you first came up as a rookie - obviously, when you first get to the big leagues, it kind of blows your mind and you are in awe - but, what is it like going to a team like the Yankees with all of those star players and the big city, etc.
HENN: It's definitely a little different. With those big name guys it's a little overwhelming, going to different cities - there's a few places where there are more Yankee fans on the road then there are home fans for the other team. Having people camp out at the hotel - it's definitely different there. But, when it comes down to it, it is still the same game. I find it, obviously, a little bit easier to relax here. That's just the stuff that goes along with playing in New York. I know that a lot of the players that play there know...sometimes it's a deterrent for some guys.
DZ: One last thing - the 3 teams you've played for, the Yankees, San Diego and here - you've been around 3 pretty good closers - (Mariano) Rivera, (Trevor) Hoffman and now, (Joe) Nathan. What have you learned, what have you picked up watching those guys?
HENN: It's funny, I was talking to my agent a few days ago about that...these guys go about their business in completely different ways when it comes to preparing themselves for the 8th or 9th inning. They all are consistent at putting up unbelievable numbers every year. Just watching - especially Mariano and Hoffman, at their age getting themselves prepared to do that. Obviously Joe's a little bit younger...I think it's really just keeping your body in shape, physically and mentally both - the closer position is mentally tough as well.
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
June 3: Mike Redmond
May 27: Nick Blackburn
May 26: Michael Cuddyer
May 15: Matt Guerrier
May 13: Kevin Slowey
April 30: Brendan Harris
April 28: Jason Kubel
April 18: Justin Morneau
April 15: R.A. Dickey
April 14: Denard Span
April 8: Philip Humber
April 7: Joe Crede