Twins

Twins’ Nathan Keeps Up Elbow-Surgery Comeback

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Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the New York Yankees in Game Two of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the New York Yankees in Game Two of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Joe Nathan is moving closer to regaining his closer role with the Minnesota Twins, throwing outside off a mound for the first time since reconstructive right elbow surgery nearly a year ago.

Nathan said he felt great after Wednesday’s session. He had an ulnar collateral ligament replacement procedure done last March and missed the entire 2010 season, but the 36-year-old four-time All-Star is back on track this spring.

He said he threw about 40 pitches in about 10 minutes.

“Things are moving in the right direction,” Nathan said. “I threw all my pitches and got comfortable with my surroundings again. “It’s great to be on the field.”

This was Nathan’s first day the Twins’ training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., after mostly working out in Knoxville, Tenn., where he and his family have their winter home. He had thrown a few times inside, but this was his first time in the fresh air. Twins pitchers and catchers have their first official workout on Friday.

Pitching coach Rick Anderson said Nathan looked “outstanding.” Anderson told him it was “about the smoothest and easiest” he’s seen his arm.

“Everything’s a progression,” Anderson said. “Throwing bullpens, you’re a little sore. Then you go to batting practice, that’s a little more adrenaline going. Then once the games start, there’s a lot more adrenaline. How he does with each step dictates where we’ll go with him.”

The Twins traded for Matt Capps last July to be their closer down the stretch and can quickly give him the job back if Nathan isn’t ready. Even if he is, the plan is to avoid pitching Nathan too many days in a row. So when the Twins have several consecutive save situations, Capps will likely get at least a few ninth-inning calls.

“That’s a nice commodity to have is two proven closers out there,” Anderson said. “If you come into camp and name one of them the closer, the other one is not competing for it. They’ve both been successful closing games. So let them go out there and have at it. That’s a good thing.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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