Joe Nathan is still likely headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery, but Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins’ closer will give his injured elbow “a vigorous test” by playing catch Saturday.
Complicating matters is that Nathan was “bedridden Saturday and Sunday with a virus and still had a sore throat Monday.” The larger issue, of course, is his torn ulnar collateral ligament, which few pitchers have ever been able to pitch through. However, given that he’d likely be sidelined for at least 12 months following surgery Nathan sees no harm in trying anything possible to avoid going under the knife:
When I feel loose, if I do get loose, I definitely want to test this thing as much as I can for Day 1 and see how it feels. This is going to be something where there shouldn’t be a gray area. It’s going to be I feel great, or this just isn’t me, this doesn’t feel right.
Whatever happens in my career, I tell everybody you’ve gotta look at the bright side. For me, if the worst-case does happen, I see it as a chance to prolong my career. I see it as a chance to give myself a new arm and pitch for another five years after this. That’s the worst-case scenario for me, coming back in 2011 with a brand new arm.
While visiting Twins camp last week Craig saw first-hand how well Nathan handled news of the injury and looking at the bright side is always a good approach, but in reality “the worst-case scenario” isn’t “coming back in 2011 with a brand new arm.” The worst-case scenario for a 35-year-old who undergoes Tommy John surgery is never pitching again and even if things go reasonably well in his recovery missing a big chunk of 2011 is a strong possibility.
The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.
It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.