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Joe Nathan gets shaky save in first appearance since 2009

Apr 4, 2011, 10:15 AM EDT

joe-nathan-first-save-of-2011 AP

Joe Nathan successfully converted a two-run save yesterday in his first appearance since 2009, but his return from Tommy John elbow surgery wasn’t pretty.

He threw just 15 of 31 pitches for strikes and allowed a run on two hits and two walks, with his first out coming on a long fly ball from Blue Jays rookie J.P. Arencibia that nearly tied the game.

More importantly, as was the case throughout spring training Nathan’s velocity was significantly down. His slider wasn’t sharp and his fastball clocked in at 88-91 miles per hour compared to 93-95 mph pre-surgery.

Ron Gardenhire didn’t hesitate handing ninth-inning duties back to Nathan despite an 11.05 ERA this spring, but it’ll be interesting to see how long the leash is with experienced closer Matt Capps serving in a setup role for now. Capps worked the seventh inning yesterday for the first time since 2007.

  1. minnesconsin - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    twitch doesn’t look great. Like gleeman said, the slider looked pretty flat and there were some hard-hit balls. I was sure Delmon would botch the ball at the wall, and Span made a really nice play on the ball in deep right center.

    Couldn’t believe how frequently he went to the curve yesterday, dropping it down and away against right handers frequently. He knew his stuff wasn’t great and just didn’t want to leave anything too far out over the plate.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Two words…It’s early.

    • trevorb06 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:18 PM

      nozzle

  3. cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Nathan’s really good; not in a velocity sense but in the sense of seeing what he’s got and dealing with it. He made great adjustments against guys who looked ready to murder his lame duck looking stuff and brained his way out of it. I think the days of overpowering guys may be behind him, but its early yet. He’s gonna need that hi-light reel D behind him to keep this up, but if his velocity comes back then he’ll be lights out again.

  4. schrutebeetfarms - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    It’s funny because all spring-training all I heard from Twins management and the beat reporters was how much Nathan’s velocity was up there. He was at 94 already and normally he isn’t at that until a month or two into the season. He was well ahead of schedule was the company line.

    So what happened? Cause he sure didn’t have it yesterday.

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