UPDATE: Nathan headed for MRI on elbow

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Joe Nathan headshot.jpgUPDATE: Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Nathan is headed back to the Twin Cities to have an MRI on the elbow.

SATURDAY, 3:12pm: Luckily the Twins are saying it was only for “precautionary reasons,” but closer Joe Nathan was removed from Saturday’s game against the Red Sox due to some elbow tightness.

He faced three batters and threw 20 pitches in the third inning before being greeted by pitching coach Rick Anderson and assistant trainer Dave Preumer. As you’ll recall, Nathan underwent surgery in October to remove two bone spurs and bone chips from his right elbow. Here’s what he told Kelly Thesier of MLB.com:

“[There was] some tightness, achiness. We didn’t want to push through
anything,” Nathan said of his elbow. “I think it’s more being careful
than anything right now. [We are] taking things slow because we still
have a lot of time.”

Nathan said he will be reevaluated on Sunday, but did not want to “come to any assumptions” whether he’d be fine or not. It’s finger-crossing time in Minnesota. You wouldn’t know it by all the attention Mariano Rivera gets, but Nathan has a 1.87 ERA and 0.93 WHIP since joining the Twins in 2004.
 

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. lays out to make a great catch in deep right-center field

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Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. robbed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt of at least a double in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game at Wrigley Field. Almora completely left his feet to catch the ball before landing just shy of the warning track.

The Giants took the early lead two batters prior to Belt’s at-bat as Joe Panik hit a solo home run to center field.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.