Joe Nathan likely headed for minor league rehab assignment

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According to MLB.com beat writers Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Schelling, right-hander Joe Nathan told reporters in Fort Myers, Florida on Wednesday that he is ready to return to the major leagues.

Nathan has been building the strength of his arm with semi-daily throwing sessions since the beginning of June and even tossed a live batting practice session Wednesday morning to catcher Joe Mauer and top infield prospect Miguel Sano.

But the Twins’ coaching staff isn’t quite convinced. They’re still disheartened by the 15 runs that Nathan allowed in his first 15 1/3 innings and probably second-guessing his early return from Tommy John surgery.

Here’s manager Ron Gardenhire, speaking to MLB.com:

“I read a report that he’s really close, but that’s to be decided,” Gardenhire said. “Our plan is for him to go to Triple-A and face hitters in a game situation two or three times. I guess there’s a discrepancy. He believes he’s ready to go. I heard that, I read that. So we’ll have a conversation with him.”

That conversation will probably go something like this:

GARDENHIRE: “Hey, Joe, how’s the arm feeling? How’s the elbow?”

NATHAN: “All good, skip. Ready to get back at it.”

GARDENHIRE: “Great, we’re sending you out on a rehab assignment. Pack your things for Rochester.”

Sorry if you were expecting comedy there. In my defense, minor league rehab assignments aren’t very funny. I suppose I could’ve added a “fire it through the internet” line to Gardy’s dialogue. For Aaron.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.