Twins option Blackburn, purchase Fien’s contract

DETROIT — Nick Blackburn’s yearlong struggles caused the Twins to option him to Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday after another poor outing against the Tigers on Tuesday. Right-hander reliever Casey Fien’s contract was purchased from Triple-A to take Blackburn’s’ place, and he’ll join the Twins in time for Thursday’s game in Detroit.

Blackburn lasted just four innings against the Tigers on Tuesday, allowing six runs on eight hits, including two homers. It dropped the right-hander to 4-5 with an 8.10 ERA in 13 starts this season.

It’s been a tough year for Blackburn, who has thrown just one quality start and hasn’t gone longer than six innings in any of his outings. He’s also battled injuries, as he missed time with tightness in his shoulder in April and was placed on the disabled list with a strained left quad in mid-May.

It’s been a continuation of last year, as the sinkerballer has a 7.61 ERA over his last 24 starts dating back to June 27, 2011. Blackburn pitched well early last year — he had a 3.15 ERA through his first 15 starts — but his 7.61 ERA since then is the highest among Major League starters.

Blackburn, who signed a four-year, $14-million extension before the 2010 season, has a career 4.79 ERA in 139 games, including 131 starts over six seasons.

Fien, meanwhile, had a 4.30 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks in 46 innings with Rochester. He has some big league experience, posting an 8.36 ERA in 14 innings over parts of two seasons with Detroit from 2009-10.

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