The Minnesota Twins have their first significant worry of spring training, and it’s a big one.
Joe Nathan, their four-time All-Star closer, left Saturday’s game in Fort Myers, Fla., for precautionary reasons after feeling tightness and soreness in his surgically repaired right elbow. He is expected to be re-evaluated today.
“Until we get that evaluation, I don’t want to come to any assumptions that I’m going to be fine or not,” Nathan said.
With no heir apparent at closer, the Twins can ill afford to lose Nathan for a long stretch. The team likely will be extra cautious because this is spring training, but a normal course would be to shut him down for several days, hoping he can ramp back up in time for the April 5 season opener.
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Nathan, 35, had surgery Oct. 20 to remove bone spurs and loose fragments from the elbow. His early-spring throwing sessions were pain free, he said, but he noticed a difference Saturday, pitching in his first game, a 9-3 loss to Boston.
“Everything felt awesome in the bullpen,” Nathan said. “Even the first hitter today (Mike Cameron) went very well. Then it started tightening up, got a little tighter, got a little achier.”
Nathan struck out Cameron but then walked Bill Hall and J.D. Drew. His final pitch to Drew – his 20th of the outing – was a fastball for ball four, and Nathan was clearly angry. He said he was frustrated by the elbow and his lack of location.
“There’s nothing I can tell you right now until we see what they say (today),” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “No one really thinks it’s a big deal.”
Anderson nearly retired
Garret Anderson was about to set a deadline that could have ended his 16-year career when the Dodgers came calling.
Anderson signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers on Wednesday. He reported to camp in Glendale, Ariz., on Saturday, saying he stayed in shape this winter but did not face pitchers.
“I was getting close, getting to a point where I was like, ‘OK, if I don’t hear something by this point, it would be very hard to start the season with a team,’ ” Anderson said. “(The deadline) was right around this time.”
Manager Joe Torre said Anderson will be kept out of games until the veteran deems himself ready to play.
Cubs lose reliever Guzman
Chicago Cubs reliever Angel Guzman is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his pitching shoulder, and the club says there’s no timetable for his return.
Guzman, 28, appeared in 55 games last season, going 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA. It was the best year for Guzman, who has had arm problems for most of his 11 seasons in the organization.
General manager Jim Hendry said Guzman probably will work on strengthening his shoulder for the next four to six weeks. If that’s successful, he could start throwing again. Surgery would be a last resort because the required procedure would be invasive and wouldn’t guarantee a full recovery.
Edwin Jackson pitched two innings of two-hit ball in his first start since being acquired in an offseason trade, but the Diamondbacks lost to a Giants split squad, 12-6. … Marlins ace Josh Johnson allowed two runs in two innings in a 6-5 victory over St. Louis, his first outing since signing a $39 million, four-year contract. … Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, playing for the first time since arthroscopic knee surgery cut short his disappointing 2009 season, made a diving catch in the second inning but also booted a routine ball for an error and went 0-for-2 at the plate in a 15-3 drubbing by the White Sox. … In his debut with Oakland, Coco Crisp doubled and singled as the A’s beat the Los Angeles Angels, 4-2. … Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli sustained a concussion after being hit in the helmet by a pitch during a game against the Blue Jays in Tampa, Fla. He was taken to a hospital for a precautionary CT scan, which was normal. … Right-hander Jason Grilli (quadriceps) and rookie first baseman/outfielder Jordan Brown (torn knee ligament) are both facing surgery after being injured during the Cleveland Indians’ spring training camp. Grilli’s injury was termed a possible season-ender.