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Nathan plays catch, makes a decision about surgery

Bad news, everyone!

Joe Nathan played catch with Rick Anderson this morning, to determine if he could pitch through his injury and get by without having Tommy John surgery. His conclusion? No.

“Didn’t go like we hoped,” Nathan said. “We knew it was a long shot, but what this did do is clear my head. Definitely was no gray area. Definitely was on the black side, where it didn’t go as well as we like, and we know now we’re going to have to go in and get some surgery done, get this thing fixed up.”

Joe Christensen watched the throwing session, and said Nathan was “making some strong throws before it ended,” and that he couldn’t tell whether it had gone badly.

“As we kept throwing, it became clear that it was getting harder and harder to play catch,” Nathan said. “It became clear that it didn’t feel great. This was going to be an easy answer for me to know I wouldn’t be able to pitch without getting this thing taken care of.”

I’m glad there’s no gray area for him in this, and that it was such an easy decision. This is not something Nathan should be second-guessed about all summer, every time a lesser reliever struggles in the 9th inning. I think we all knew this had to be done, and this just makes it official.

Given that the estimated recovery time is 12 months, we now await the news as to when he’s having the surgery; Nathan himself said “as soon as possible,” and hopefully he’s going by his own definition of the words “soon” and “possible,” rather than the Twins’ version which would undoubtedly have him wait until November to have the surgery.

6 comments

6 Comments so far

  1. FunBobby March 21st, 2010 10:34 am

    I think we all expected this. I hope he is on a plane to see Dr. James Andrews right now.

  2. rghrbek March 21st, 2010 10:49 am

    Do we actually have precedence for people coming back from this surgery, in one year, and being at the same level they were previously?

    My point is, if Nathan has this done, let’s say Monday. Can we expect him to be our closer next year?

    I just assume, that it is at least 1.5 to 2 years before these individuals are back to where they were.

    Nathan can pitch next year, but if he is in the low 90’s the whole time and his slider doesn’t have that bite, well he shouldn’t be our closer, just because we are paying him 13 mil and he’s Joe Nathan.

    It’s a year away, and I should be focusing on this year.

  3. FunBobby March 21st, 2010 10:55 am

    Didn’t John Smoltz come back pretty quickly? My guess is that the recovery process is a little shorter for relief pitchers than starters.

  4. sirsean March 21st, 2010 10:58 am

    Smoltz missed one season, and then when he returned he was unable to continue as a starter (he transitioned to closer when he returned from Tommy John surgery).

    The pitchers that take longer than 18 months are the exception; those that return in 12 months at “85-92% of their original effectiveness” (whatever that means) are supposed to be the norm.

    As long as Nathan actually does get to Dr James Andrews within the next few weeks, he should be ready to go early next year, if not Opening Day 2011.

  5. Ragstoriches March 22nd, 2010 7:58 am

    I keep hearing Liriano’s name being tossed around as a closer, and it makes me shudder. Talk about the worst thing you could do to a kid with already fragile confidence.

  6. sirsean March 22nd, 2010 8:02 am

    I’m not worried. The Twins have told Liriano he’s not being considered for the closer role, and has a spot in the starting rotation.

    So they did the right thing, probably because nobody in the front office has heard of Twitter and thus can’t be distracted by the throngs of crazy fans.

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