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.