Joe Nathan’s comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery appears to be going well, as the Twins closer threw off a mound outdoors today for the first time since missing all of last season and pitching coach Rick Anderson called the session “outstanding.”
Nathan arrived at spring training ahead of schedule and was reportedly clocked in the high-80s right away, and according to Anderson he was throwing “smooth” and “easy” today.
He still has some hurdles to get over and Nathan averaged 93.6 miles per hour with his fastball in 2009, but the early results are very encouraging for a Twins team that desperately needs him to return at something resembling his old self to stabilize a bullpen that lost more than half of its innings from last year to free agency.
Prior to the injury Nathan saved 246 games with a 1.87 ERA in six seasons as the Twins’ closer, narrowly besting Mariano Rivera for the most saves and lowest ERA in baseball during that time.
The Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. The Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, and are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West, will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base. If the M’s make the playoffs he’d likely do so in the postseason too, given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension.
Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings.Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.
Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.
The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.