Joe Nathan likely headed for minor league rehab assignment

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According to MLB.com beat writers Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Schelling, right-hander Joe Nathan told reporters in Fort Myers, Florida on Wednesday that he is ready to return to the major leagues.

Nathan has been building the strength of his arm with semi-daily throwing sessions since the beginning of June and even tossed a live batting practice session Wednesday morning to catcher Joe Mauer and top infield prospect Miguel Sano.

But the Twins’ coaching staff isn’t quite convinced. They’re still disheartened by the 15 runs that Nathan allowed in his first 15 1/3 innings and probably second-guessing his early return from Tommy John surgery.

Here’s manager Ron Gardenhire, speaking to MLB.com:

“I read a report that he’s really close, but that’s to be decided,” Gardenhire said. “Our plan is for him to go to Triple-A and face hitters in a game situation two or three times. I guess there’s a discrepancy. He believes he’s ready to go. I heard that, I read that. So we’ll have a conversation with him.”

That conversation will probably go something like this:

GARDENHIRE: “Hey, Joe, how’s the arm feeling? How’s the elbow?”

NATHAN: “All good, skip. Ready to get back at it.”

GARDENHIRE: “Great, we’re sending you out on a rehab assignment. Pack your things for Rochester.”

Sorry if you were expecting comedy there. In my defense, minor league rehab assignments aren’t very funny. I suppose I could’ve added a “fire it through the internet” line to Gardy’s dialogue. For Aaron.

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.