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Joe Nathan had an “outstanding” mound session today

Feb 16, 2011, 3:19 PM EDT

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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.

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