Wife helped Dean clear path to Majors

Left-hander replaces Milone in Twins' long-relief role

Wife helped Dean clear path to Majors

CHICAGO -- Pat Dean arrived in a Major League clubhouse for the first time Saturday and took the locker that only a few hours earlier belonged to one of his biggest mentors.

Left-handed long reliever Tommy Milone cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester on Saturday. Dean will take Milone's roster spot and his role. It's been a long time coming for the 26-year-old, who said he texted Milone as the moves went down to thank him for all his help.

Milone taught Dean about how to approach hitters and what to look for in batters he had never faced. This spring, Milone helped Dean hone his curveball. Now, Dean has Milone's locker. 

Two years ago, Dean went 8-9 with a 4.81 ERA at Double-A New Britain. This came after a successful 2013 season in which Dean broke into Triple-A.

"I kind of lost confidence in what I was doing," he said.

Confidence is not an easy thing to regain. The lack of it can wreck careers more than absent command or velocity. Dean said he turned to his wife, Katie, to get his career back on track.

He would come home and tell her about his struggles, about the pressure he felt, about everything that was happening on and off the field. The home therapy resulted in him developing a Zen-like approach to the game.

"She kind of calmed me down, and it kind put things back into perspective," Dean said. "Being able to play a child's game for a living every day, it's not a bad gig. Once I started appreciating every day, the ability to come out here, I think that really changed a lot for me."

In 2015, Dean had a 2.82 ERA in 179 innings. But he was still passed over, not getting a September callup and not making the Major League roster out of Spring Training.

"It definitely makes you feel like you went through the whole process," Dean said.

Friday, he came into the clubhouse after his game in Rochester and began to plug in his phone to listen to music. He heard Rochester manager Mike Quade call for him. He went into Quade's office and found out he was going to the big leagues.

He walked out the office to a swarm of hugs and congratulations from his teammates.

"Still in shock," Dean said. "I'm not really sure what to do with myself, to be honest with you."

Dean said his wife arrived in Chicago on Saturday, and his parents and brother were on the way. He also has family in the area, so there should be a crowd to watch his Major League debut, which could come this weekend against the White Sox.

"I just knew if I kept plugging along and do the things I know I'm capable of, one day I would get my shot," Dean said.

Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Twins on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.