Posted on: March 1, 2011 2:49 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 2:51 pm
Posted by Matt Snyder
Joe Nathan took the mound Tuesday in his spring debut. Thus, it was obviously his first game action since undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last spring.
While it wasn't exactly an Earth-shattering outing, it was enough for encouragement. Nathan threw 20 pitches, allowing only a walk. He induced two flyouts and a groundout, according to Kelly Thesier of MLB.com via Twitter. There was much discussion on Twitter of the radar gun being unreliabe in the stadium, but it's worth noting Nathan was right around 90 mph, which is where he usually is this time of the spring. He has recently told reporters he feels "normal" for this time of the year, so that mark shouldn't be surprising.
Though he still has a bit to go, all signs point to Nathan being on track to resume his role as Twins closer this season. Even if he doesn't start in the role right out of the gate, it's hard to see him not regaining the role within the first month of the season.
The Twins do have Matt Capps as insurance. He saved 16 games and sported a nice 2.00 ERA for the Twins after coming over in a deadline deal.
But Nathan is one of the league's elite closers when healthy. As a Twin, he's racked up 246 saves in six seasons (an average of 41 per year) with a 1.87 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 11.1 K/9.
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Posted on: January 26, 2011 3:08 pm
It was spring training, and the Twins were looking forward to another chase for a division title. Their closer, Joe Nathan, came into a game to get his work in, but exited with an injury that required Tommy John surgery to fix.
"I don't plan on being left out of any drills or held back in any way," Nathan told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Nathan has had a long road back and has only just been cleared to throw breaking balls, but the 36-year-old fully intends to be there the first day of spring training, ready to go. "If something else says something differently, we'll go from there. But my mind-set right now is that I'm closing and getting ready for the season. That's my plan. We'll see how it goes. There's always going to be a question mark."
Nathan has been tossing fastballs at roughly 80 percent capacity over the past month, with some college hitters taking hacks. He's had no setbacks, and his arm is bouncing back just fine after each bullpen session.
"I've been pleased with the recovery the day after bullpens," he said. "One thing that's been crazy about this is that I'm probably throwing more pitches now than I ever have. The last two sessions, I went 30 pitches without hitters, then 30 with hitters. Then 15 without, 45 with. Hopefully, in the long run, that will help with my stamina."
Nathan needs a big season as he is entering the final year of a four-year deal that guarantees him $47.5 million. The Twins have a club option for $12.5 million, but that will only be exercised if he throws up a season similar to his career in Minnesota with a 1.87 ERA over 412 games and 418 2/3 innings. He saved a club-record 47 in 2009 as well.
"As much as I know the baseball side, I know the business side, too," he said. "I know what I'm going to have to do this year to show them I'm getting stronger and continue to be healthy."
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: October 19, 2010 5:52 pm
Arthroscopic surgery seems to be popular in Minnesota these days.
Right fielder-turned-first baseman Michael Cuddyer underwent arthroscopic knee surgery once the season concluded, while starting pitcher Nick Blackburn had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow last Wednesday.
Now, Scott Baker is joining in on the fun with his own right-elbow arthroscopic surgery scheduled for this upcoming Wednesday as the Star Tribune reports.
"I've been dealing with it over the last couple years," Blackburn (pictured) said of his elbow injury that saw him finish with a 5.42 ERA in 161 innings, garnering a demotion to the minors at one point. "I think most pitchers in baseball have some stuff they're dealing with. We just decided to get it taken care of now."
Blackburn had a bone spur and other loose particles removed by team doctors, with no damage to ligaments.
"They just poked a couple holes in there and cleaned that stuff out," Blackburn said. "I've already got the same range of motion that I had before the surgery."
Meanwhile, Baker, who finished with a 4.49 ERA in 29 starts, will undergo surgery at the hands of Dr. David Altchek, the Mets physician who also operated on closer Joe Nathan's season-ending elbow surgery in spring training.
Blackburn, Baker and Nathan are all expected to be ready for spring training.-- Evan Brunell
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