As expected, Twins' closer Joe Nathan will have Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow and will miss the 2010 season. He hopes to be ready by opening day 2011.
Nathan discovered the right elbow damage a few weeks ago and rested in the hopes that it would heal enough to give it a go. He played catch Sunday morning with pitching coach Rick Anderson, and the pain was too intense.
The Twins' all-time saves leader, Nathan has saved 246 games for the Twins since joining the team via a trade with the San Francisco Giants prior to the 2004 season. He saved a team-record 47 games in 2009. Nathan is midway through a four-year, $47M deal he signed prior to the 2008 season.
As written previously, the Twins will audition closer candidates throughout spring training, including Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Jesse Crain, and Jon Rauch. Rumors are flying about the team checking out San Diego's Heath Bell, but for now, the Twins appear to be looking internally.
One was always holding out hope for a miracle concerning Nathan, but Twins' fans feared surgery was going to be the case. In the end, it's better he got this problem taken care of now instead of trying to pitch through pain in some early-season games which could mean the difference in a division which has been decided by a tie-breaker game two seasons in a row.