9:36pm: Christensen passes along word that Nathan has opted to undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and will miss all of the 2010 season. The throwing session apparently ran less than smoothly:
“It didn’t go like we hoped,” Nathan said. “We knew it was a long shot,
but this will help clear my head.”
8:48am: Joe Nathan finally got around to playing catch Sunday morning, a final test before he decides whether to undergo season-ending elbow surgery. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is awaiting word from the Twins, as are we.
Nathan was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament last week and will miss a large chunk of the 2010 season no matter what course he takes. After all, rehab for such an injury would almost certainly last several months.
The 35-year-old closer collected 47 saves last season while posting a 2.10 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 89/22 K/BB ratio in 68 2/3 innings of work. The Twins haven’t announced who will fill in for him this season, though it’s safe to guess that Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier are the front-runners for the substitute gig. Rauch has closing experience and Guerrier is one of the finest setup men in the game.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.