We’ve heard nothing but positive things about Joe Nathan’s rehab from Tommy John surgery until this point and we’re about to get the chance to see him back in game action.
According to Kelly Thesier of MLB.com, Nathan is scheduled to make his first appearance of the spring Tuesday against the Red Sox, less than one year removed from the procedure.
Nathan continues to throw regular bullpen sessions and from what Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, he isn’t treating him much differently than any of the other pitchers on his staff.
“I didn’t hear anything negative,” Gardenhire said about Nathan’s most recent live batting practice session. “And Nathan feels great. He, obviously, has done fine. I’m trying to stay away from asking him how he’s doing every day. He’s had enough of that over the last year. So we’re letting him pitch and letting him be a part of it. I’m just letting him have a spring training and see what happens. I don’t want to get into that. `How’d we do today?'”
The most important thing is that Nathan is feeling healthy, but it will be interesting to see his velocity once he gets back on the mound. The 36-year-old right-hander averaged 93.6 miles per hour on his fastball in 2009, according to FanGraphs. He was reportedly clocked in the high 80s upon arriving to spring training last week.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.
If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research.
Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have a noon meeting, he’s there at 11:30 a.m. He’s emailing story ideas in the morning. He wants research. He’s almost all-in to the point where it’s annoying.”
Rose also praised Rodriguez, saying, “You’ve never been around a guy who prepares more than Alex does. Alex does his homework. He knows the game. He understands players. He’s into the deal . . . Frank does a great job in preparation, too. I’m the only one that don’t prepare as much as these two guys. I don’t know if that’s because I can’t write or what it is. But these guys do their homework and they ask questions and they ask the right questions and then you put that in with our experience, all the things we’ve been through and how good we get along with each other, that’s why it shows up on the TV.”
Rodriguez, who hasn’t officially retired despite not having played since the Yankees released him in mid-August, wouldn’t commit to more TV work beyond this year’s postseason.