Tag:Joe Nathan
Posted on: August 25, 2008 9:28 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2008 1:28 pm
 

Everyday Eddie: The Minnesota Sequel

He's no longer Everyday Eddie. That disappeared with the Tommy John ligament transfer surgery and subsequent rehabilitation.

But Eddie Guardado is recovered and has been productive in the Texas bullpen, and his homecoming to Minnesota can only help the Twins as they sprint through these final 30-some games to keep pace with the Chicago White Sox.

The Twins re-acquired their former closer on Monday, and the fact that it came one day after their bullpen melted down in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels was no coincidence.

Closer Joe Nathan is nails but, lately, set-up men Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Dennys Reyes have been showing some wear.

Overall, the Twins' bullpen ranks eighth in the AL with a 3.95 ERA, and its bend-but-don't-break nature was stretched to the max over the weekend. They easily could have swept the four-game series from the Angels and, at the very least should have won three of four.

Guardado, 37, isn't the menacing closer he was in his last incarnation with the Twins, when he collected 116 of his career 187 saves. He was, though, 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 49 1/3 innings for the Rangers. And opponents are only batting .220 against him.

"He gets guys out," one American League scout said Monday. "If you were at a high school game and saw him, you wouldn't look at him first, second or third. But he throws strikes, and he gets guys out."

Overall, the Twins rank seventh in the AL with a 4.16 ERA, while the White Sox are fourth at 3.85. Chicago's bullpen also has been tighter than Minnesota's, ranking fourth in the AL with a 3.62 ERA.

Minnesota over the weekend started a brutal stretch in which it plays 24 of its next 30 games on the road. Of their final 32 games, the Twins play 20 away and 12 in the Metrodome. The White Sox have 19 road games remaining and 13 at home.

Likes: The dog days of August fading into the intensity of the final 30-game sprint toward the finish line. What fun September is as the playoff races take shape and the college football season begins. … Eddie Guardado in a Twins uniform again. … The apparent return of the 20-game winner. Arizona's Brandon Webb is at 19 wins and Cleveland's Cliff Lee is at 18 with a month still to play. … Blueberry season. … Fresh blueberries and raspberries over vanilla ice cream on a hot summer's night. Can't beat it (OK, that was me impersonating Larry King). … My old school, Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, coached by classmate Jack Giarmo, kicking off its football season Friday night at Erie Mason. Go get 'em, boys.

Dislikes: The final Red Sox-Yankees series in Yankee Stadium begins Tuesday night. Will the intensity remain the same in the new Yankee Stadium? You'd like to think so, but it's difficult to imagine it will be as loud there as at the old joint. … Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto: Strained elbow. … New York Mets' John Maine: Bone spurs. Ugh.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Time to love every man, woman and child
"Just forgive and let live for awhile
"Shake my head and wonder how much more
"The bells are tolling on the streets of the world
"What time is it, help me understand
"Why war is in the heart of man"

-- Buddy Miller, This Ol' World

Posted on: July 14, 2008 10:32 pm
 

Making nice in AL Central

NEW YORK -- The skies are even friendlier, apparently, on Tiger Airlines.

After Minnesota finished taking three of four in Detroit over the weekend, the three Twins' All-Star representatives -- first baseman Justin Morneau, catcher Joe Mauer and closer Joe Nathan -- were invited by Tigers manager Jim Leyland to fly to New York on a special charter.

It was Detroit owner Mike Ilitch's private plane, which the Little Caesar's pizza magnate had arranged to fly Leyland, an All-Star coach, and infielder Carlos Guillen to New York.

"That was really nice of him," Mauer said. "We got a little delayed, but it was really nice of him to do."

Air Ilitch, like many other planes carrying All-Stars, was delayed by a couple of hours Sunday night because of thunderstorms in the New York area.

"Saved us from having to go through security at the airport," Morneau said.  "Leyland is a great guy. He's a great manager. I don't know if I was driving him nuts or not. I was asking him questions the whole flight."

Among the things Morneau wanted to know: Who's the best player Leyland ever managed?

Answer: Barry Bonds. "Hands down," Leyland told Morneau.

 

Posted on: July 14, 2008 10:20 pm
 

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

NEW YORK -- Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon spoke Tuesday as if he thinks he's got a chance to pitch in a save situation in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's All-Star Game, and maybe he will.

If Yankees closer Mariano Rivera suddenly disappears into thin air.

One of the best storylines here this week is the chance for Rivera to collect a save in Tuesday's All-Star Game, possibly the final big-stage event in Yankee Stadium history.

C'mon, Jonathan, do you think AL manager Terry Francona would get out of New York alive if he opted for you instead of Rivera, given the time and place?

"You're starting to scare me with that question," Papelbon quipped Monday. "Is the mob involved in this?

"There are so many different routes you can go with this. So many different scenarios. It's just not that easy. It's not. You have to understand what major-league baseball is about, what the game is about. You've got to understand how players pay their dues.

"I don't know, man."

Everything Papelbon said, including admitting that he's still in the dues-paying stage, spoke toward Rivera getting the ninth-inning nod.

Francona declined Tuesday to state his ninth inning plans on the grounds that "out of the spirit of the game, competition, having a little bit of fun, we're not going to announce the rest of our rotation yet."

To which, NL manager Clint Hurdle countered, "I'm going to stick my neck out there and say we'll prepare for (Rivera) a little bit, watch a little video."

Rivera talked Tuesday like a man planning on pitching the ninth.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I'm looking forward to doing it one more time (on a big stage in Yankee Stadium), yes."

This AL squad is deep in closers. Los Angeles' Francisco Rodriguez, who leads the league with 38 saves, is here. So are Papelbon and Baltimore's George Sherrill, tied for second at 28 saves. And Minnesota's Joe Nathan, fourth at 27; Kansas City's Joakim Soria, fifth at 25; and Rivera, sixth at 23.

"If this is one of my dues, it's one of my dues," Papelbon said. "If I was the manager and I had to make the decision, I'd be closing.

"If I said I'd get Mariano Rivera to do it, that's not the competitive nature of Jonathan Papelbon."

However, he also said he'd understand if Francona told him he was going to go with Rivera.

"I think it would be bullheaded of me and selfish of me not to understand it," he said.

Papelbon said he "honestly" doesn't think Francona has made up his mind yet, though that seems awfully difficult to believe. Francona is big on respecting the game, and it's difficult to see him electing to go with anybody but Rivera if it comes down to it.

Not in this ballpark.

It's the main reason why Nathan doesn't expect to get the ball in the ninth.

"We've got a lot of good guys who can close," Nathan said. "I think Mariano is definitely going to do it. You've got to throw him in there."

How does Nathan rate his own chances at getting the ball in the ninth inning?

"I'd say slim to none, with that guy around," he said, chuckling.

 
 
 
 
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