Joe Nathan scheduled to return to game action on Tuesday

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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.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.