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.

The Red Sox designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox activated Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they made to make room for him on the roster was a big one too: they designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup. At the moment the Red Sox have the second best offense in all of baseball despite Ramirez’s performance.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however and, long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.