Joe Nathan Took an Unnecessary Risk

It’s what Spring Training is all about.  Players testing out their arms and legs to make sure they are in their very best shape for the upcoming season. But for Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, his season got shut down before it ever really got started.

Back on March 6th, Nathan left a spring training game early due to tightness in his right elbow. Sadly, that was the beginning of the end for the stellar closer.  Though Nathan was told by doctors to expect some problems following his minor surgery in October, the news was much worse. It turned out that Nathan had a torn ligament in his right elbow and would most likely need Tommy John surgery. This past weekend, Nathan and the Twins were looking for a miracle and had him try to throw again. The results were no different and he now will have surgery.

What I want to know is for a player like Nathan, why take the risk of injuring that elbow even more? Miracles are rare — very rare — and attempting to use that elbow in my opinion was just plain stupid; it was already injured. Doctors had already determined that he was going to need the Tommy John surgery. What made them think that playing catch a week later would have healed the tendons? The risk wasn’t worth it because Nathan could have made it much, much worse.

It’s a hard fact to face that you won’t be able to play in the brand new stadium with the team considered the A.L. Central favorite and committed to winning, but it happens. Regardless Nathan’s season is closed down. And I’m sure all the teams (besides the Twins) in the A.L. Central are happy to announce “He Gone.”

Nathan leaves with tightness in Elbow [MLB.com]
Minnesota Twins Lose Joe Nathan For the Season [Bleacher Report]

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  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I kind of want to know whether the team suggested it or whether Nathan wanted to try every option before ultimately shutting it down for the year. Sometimes guys want to be the hero and only wind up hurting themselves more.

    This really sucks for the Twins because Nathan was one of the best closers in baseball. Rauch is OK, but the drop-off between the two probably could mean five wins for the Twins. I’m really wondering now how much the elbow bothered him back in October — his blown save against the Yankees was very uncharacteristic.

  • http://detroit4lyfe.com Bob

    From my understanding, if the MRI reveals a tear, which was the case here, throwing on it is not going to make it worse. A UCL tear is a UCL tear, no matter the size of the tear. I’ve had a number of buddies who had TJ done by Dr. Andrews in AL and were given the OK to throw beforehand to see if they could stomach the pain/get through it sans surgery (mostly seniors who didn’t want to take a medical red shirt when they’d be done with college already). In almost all cases, they can’t or are significantly worse to the point there’s no point to play through it. But what Nathan did would not make it “much, much worse.”