Jon Rauch Tagged As Joe Nathan's Replacement

Twins closer Joe Nathan left a spring training game with tightness in his surgically repaired right elbow. Scar tissue from the surgery may be to blame.

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Joe Nathan Opts For Surgery, Officially Out For At Least The 2010 Season

It probably won't come as much of a surprise, but that medical miracle Joe Nathan and the Twins were hoping for didn't happen. As MLB.com reports, after a game of catch to test the elbow went predictably poorly, Nathan made the final decision to go under the knife:

But on Sunday morning, when he played catch for the first time since he was diagnosed with the tear, Nathan felt stiffness in his elbow. Afterward, he said that he will undergo season-ending Tommy John ligament replacement surgery as soon as possible.

"It didn't go like we hoped," Nathan said. "We knew it was a long shot, but what this did do is clear my head. There was definitely no gray area. [It] definitely was on the black side, where it didn't go as well as we'd like, and we know now we're going to have to go in and get some surgery done, get this thing fixed up."

Nathan said he will have the surgery done either this week or next, although he has not yet decided who will perform it or where he'll have it done. The recovery time for the surgery is usually around 12 months, and Nathan said that he's "very confident" that he will be ready to go for Opening Day in 2011.

Tragic, really, but at the very least everybody's had a couple weeks to prepare themselves for this day. It's the going forward part that's going to be rougher, though. The Twins don't have any evident great options at closer at this point, and the USA Today says their only hope may be a lousy trade in which they give up prospects for someone mediocre, like Scott Frasor. Oof.

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Twins Closer Joe Nathan Has Torn Elbow Ligament; Tommy John Surgery Possibly

Joe Nathan has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, according to Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen. The Twins closer will decide within the next couple of weeks whether or not to opt for surgery. It would require the dreaded Tommy John operation to repair the damage.

If Nathan does decide to undergo the surgery, he would certainly be out for all of this season, with a goal of being back in time for next year’s spring training being the best case scenario.

This is obviously a huge blow for the Twins, who now lose the strongest pitcher in their bullpen and must search for a replacement at closer.

Head to SB Nation’s Twinkie Town for more on this, and all Twins news.

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