TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's a tad dramatic, but in no way inaccurate: This is the most important Spring Training of Bobby Cassevah's life.
Coming off a season that was hindered by shoulder woes and spent in Triple-A, the 27-year-old right-hander is out of options and looking to find his way into a crowded Angels bullpen by Opening Day.
Late last spring, Cassevah suffered a slight tear in his right rotator cuff, an ailment that didn't require surgery but one that ensured he started the season in the Minor Leagues. Then, a 6.22 ERA in 44 games at Triple-A Salt Lake mostly kept him there, save for a one-week stint in the big leagues.
Cassevah said he wasn't dealing with any physical issues in the Minors, just mental ones.
"I felt like I should've been in the big leagues, and obviously wanted to, and I obviously started struggling and never picked it back up," said Cassevah, who posted a 2.87 ERA in 59 2/3 innings with the Angels from 2010-11. "I finished strong, but the season obviously didn't go the way I wanted it to go."
Cassevah was then sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he stretched himself out longer than he has since pitching in rookie ball in 2006. He served as a starter for the Scottsdale Scorpions, learning how to go through lineups two or three times over and pitching as deep as five innings.
It was there, as one of the elder statesmen in a league typically designed to showcase prospects, that Cassevah believes he learned how to pitch again.
"Just facing the lineup two or three times instead of just chucking as hard as you can for three outs is a totally different mindset," said Cassevah, who went 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA in six AFL starts. "If I carry that mindset over to relieving for those three big outs, it's key."