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Nathan's Tommy John recovery impresses Liriano

The Sports Xchange
Nathan's Tommy John recovery impresses Liriano · Notes, Quotes · Roster Report

Count Francisco Liriano among those impressed with Joe Nathan's recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Liriano had the ligament replacement surgery on Nov. 6, 2006, and didn't regain his form until the 2010 season. Nathan is 3-for-3 on save opportunities this season just more than 12 months after having the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow reconstructed.

"I'm really surprised he's back, pitching like that, throwing strikes," Liriano said. "He has his confidence back, too."

Liriano was throwing with confidence after 12 months, but had a setback when his surgically repaired left elbow tightened up. He didn't pitch a full major league season until 2009, and it was a battle, ending in a 5-13 record and 5.80 earned-run average.

It was so discouraging, Liriano said, he believed his career was over.

"I pitched through it. I had no pain, but it was like dead; I didn't have anything in my arm," Liriano said. "I was real scared. I thought I was done."

Liriano took a couple of months off before even playing catch again, and that seemed to be what he needed. Last season, he rebounded with a 14-10 record and 3.62 ERA, and set a career-igh with 201 strikeouts.

But when that season ended, he was almost four years out from his surgery. Nathan isn't even at 13 months yet.

"My goal is just to gradually get better as we go out there more and more," Nathan said. "I think I'll see an improvement in May; I think I'll see an improvement in June. When will I get back to where I was? Who knows? But is it realistic it could be in June? Sure. Is realistic it wouldn't be June? Sure.

"As things have gone along, I expect it to be sooner rather than later."

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