Twins decline $12.5 million option on closer Joe Nathan

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UPDATE: It’s official, as the Twins announced that they’ve declined Nathan’s option and hope to re-sign him at a lesser salary.

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No surprise, but Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that “all signs point to the Twins declining Joe Nathan’s $12.5 million option for 2012.”

Nathan missed all of 2010 following Tommy John elbow surgery and struggled upon returning this year, but pitched very well down the stretch after a stint on the disabled list.

However, the decision between a $12.5 million option or $2 million buyout is a no-brainer for the Twins even if they’re interested in having Nathan back in 2012.

He threw 29 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio from late June through the end of the season, but Nathan’s velocity was below his pre-surgery levels and he’s a 37-year-old entering a market saturated with veteran closers.

Ichiro wore a fake mustache to sneak into the Mariners’ dugout

Associated Press
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Ichiro Suzuki is now a Mariners employee and, as such, he’s not allowed to sit in the dugout during a game. That’s for coaches and players only.

He knows that, too. Indeed, on the day Ichiro announced his sorta-retirement, he talked about how it was going to be hard not to be down on the field with the other players. He even made a ridiculous joke about how, “[he] can’t say for certain that maybe [he] won’t put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout.”

In related news, this mysterious stranger was seen by an Associated Press photographer in the Mariners dugout during the first couple of innings of the M’s-Yankees game:

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

No beard, but I guess that joke was not very ridiculous after all. Either way, by the end of the second inning — poof — he was gone.

Obviously, when something interesting like this happens you mustache an expert for their opinion on the matter. To that end, the Associated Press reached Bobby Valentine, who famously did the same thing after an ejection way back in 1999, for comment:

“He was perfect. I never would have known it was him.”

Valentine was suspended for two games and fined $5,000. I’m assuming Ichiro won’t get hit quite as hard given that he wasn’t defying an umpire’s authority, but even if he does have to pay a fine, he’ll likely do so willingly.