DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blaine Boyer had enough. After a rocky 2011 season that saw him pitch in the Minors for three organizations, and a short stint with the Mets that saw him post a 10.80 ERA in five outings, he was ready to retire at age 29.
"I was ready to pack it up. I was over it," said Boyer, who had a career 4.81 ERA in 233 appearances with the Braves, Cardinals, D-backs and Mets over parts of seven seasons to that point. "We just had our first child and our second one was on the way and I didn't want to be that daddy who was gone and back, gone and back. So I just decided to be done."
Boyer took the entire 2012 season off and was ready to call it quits for good. It was when his good friend and former big league pitcher Paul Byrd gave him some advice that would change the trajectory of his career.
"He basically laid it out and said there are things you can do to keep your family with you as much as possible," Boyer said. "You don't want to be 55 or 65 years old and look back on what could've happened."
So Boyer signed a Minor League deal with the Royals in '13, and ultimately opted out of his contract to pitch for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan for a year with great success. It led to a spot in the bullpen with the Padres last year, and he fared well in his return to the Majors with a 3.57 ERA in 40 1/3 innings.
He couldn't land a Major League contract this offseason, but opted to sign with the Twins on a Minor League deal and has been solid so far early in camp. He's thrown 3 2/3 scoreless innings over two appearances, allowing just one hit.
"I feel like I'm pitching with a new lease on life," Boyer said. "I'm not putting as much pressure on myself as I used to. It's kind of unfortunate it took this long but I'm kinda really learning to pitch now. I feel like I'm better now than I've ever been and my arm feels fantastic."
Being a non-roster invitee, Boyer has plenty of hurdles to clear to make Minnesota's crowded bullpen, but he's still making that his goal this spring after the success he found last year in San Diego.
"As far as I'm concerned I'm going in to win this thing," Boyer said, "That's why I'm here. I know I can pitch and I can be an effective reliever in the big leagues."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.