Nathan placed on 15-day DL with elbow flexor strain

Joe Nathan spent Spring Training working to prove he can still be an effective closer. After he closed out an Opening Day win, a right elbow flexor strain has landed the veteran reliever on the 15-day disabled list, leaving the Tigers to close out games.

Nathan becomes the third Tigers pitcher to land on the DL in the span of a week, joining hard-throwing reliever Bruce Rondon and former AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. In Nathan’s case, at least, the Tigers have a ready replacement.

Joakim Soria, who closed for five seasons in Kansas City and again last year in Texas before joining Detroit in a July deadline trade, will close for the Tigers while Nathan is out. With Rondon already on the 15-day DL with biceps tenditis, manager Brad Ausmus said he’ll play the eighth inning according to matchups, though he could lean on Joba Chamberlain to handle the role once again like he did for the bulk of last season.

“I think we got a couple guys we could use down there,” Ausmus said. “It might depend on who’s hitting. Certainly Joba did it for us last year; he would be a guy that we’d consider using. I think if there are lefties coming up, we could use a guy like [Ian] Krol. It might vary day to day.”

Nathan had been dealing with soreness in his arm last week as Spring Training wrapped up, according to team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski. Nathan recorded the final out of Monday’s Opening Day win over the Twins, but felt pain on the final pitch, a slider off the outside corner that drew a checked swing from Torii Hunter and a strikeout call from plate umpire Joe West.

“Actually on the very last pitch he threw, he kind of felt it grab on Monday,” Ausmus said. “Then he came in today, played catch and from what he said and how his face looked, you could tell it was bothering him quite a bit.

“Joe, in the time I’ve known him, he’s never said I can’t throw and today he kind of, not in so many words, said I probably shouldn’t throw today, which tells me it was really bothering him. So that’s why we got the MRI.”

The MRI exam showed no structural damage, including the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. Nathan missed three weeks with a right flexor muscle strain in 2011 after missing the entire 2010 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“[Head athletic trainer] Kevin Rand said it’s very common,” Ausmus said.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said they’re “hopeful” Nathan will be ready to return once he’s eligible to come off the disabled list in two weeks. At this point, they’re relying on rest to allow the strain to heal.

“We’re hopeful,” Dombrowski said. “That’s what we think at this time.”

With Nathan out, the Tigers used the roster spot to add a third lefty reliever, recalling Blaine Hardy from Triple-A Toledo. Hardy was one the final Spring Training cuts, having competed for the second lefty role.

The three-lefty bullpen is aimed towards the Tigers’ upcoming series against the Indians.

“Hardy was real close to making our club as it was,” Dombrowski said. “We’re in a situation where, going into Cleveland, they’ve got a lot of left-handed hitters. Brad felt he’d like to have another left-hander in the bullpen, if we had that flexibility.”


When It Rains, It Pours

This is blessing in a very thin disguise.
Nathan will be very lucky to pitch in Detroit again.
We are in better hands with Soria but we also have some roles that need to be attended to.
And before anybody gets stupid, forget about Soriano.

I saw Soriano close in Washington. Stay away. That said, he’s probably exactly who they’ll get.

He hired Boras. So, probably yes. But he wont be ready

I recently commented that BP quality is an issue and remains to be settled. Never did I imagine things would get more unsettled so quickly.

Unless DD can acquire someone of Kimbrel class, and I don’t see any such animal on the horizon, the Tigers should stay in-house and possibly obtain a middle-reliever to bolster the pen. Nesbitt, Rondon, AlAl, Krol, Mercedes, Valdez and the obvious one, Soria, should be able to do as well as most any other acquisition.

Shouldn’t be hard to find someone to replace Nathan’s effectiveness. Danny Worth comes to mind.

Nathan to DL, but he should eventually return. doesn’t seem like a career ender.
don’t see Soriano as a Tiger now. thought they made a mistake a few years ago when they didn’t sign him, pinning hopes instead on Rondon. no longer seems like a viable option after last season’s 2nd half debacle.
don’t expect they’ll make a move outside the organization for a reliever at this point. could be wrong though…Morosi had some unnamed source recently who said they were close to a trade. your guess as good as mine.

he’ll be back but his closer role may be taken. Frankly I like him in a specialist role…..eerrrrr I mean a “one guy only” role… as a CLOOGY….or ROOGY….or maybe as a mop up late innings guy

Right on Evan. Blessing in disguise Dan? This is manna from heaven, Lotto, Kate Upton. I often asked the question over the last season and up to today, “Can you Joe?” This was snake venom from the sigining in late 2013. Thanks for the Mem, er panic attacks Joe. I do wish you well

This team has not been counting on Nathan….not deep down. This is more a relief than anything else…it almost reminds me of the PISTONS and JOSH SMITH.

Bill James had this theory that a team’s best reliever should not be used to close exclusively, but be used in the highest leveraged situation, regardless of whether that occurs before the 9th. unintentionally or not, that is essentially what Tigers would have done with Soria before Nathan’s injury.

am surprised no one complaining about newly appointed closer Soria being used for the last out in a blowout with no off days in the schedule for a week.

good point woody. i guess joba wil be pitching tomorrow!

but luckily soria only needed to pitch 2 balls to get the out.

Francoeur greets Porcello ,who else?

Before knowing about Nathan, I was sure Ausmus wanted to keep the relievers in action. But they had to know in advance so you are on target

Evan, maybe you’re half joking and half serious, but I’ll take the serious part. Nathan’s issue has not been getting the first or second out, but the third. He uses up a ton of pitches trying to nail down the third one, gets tired and ineffective, and then is lost for the next game.
Therefore, he should be used for situations rather than an entire inning. The dude ain’t as young as he used to be. He does still have the pitching smarts.
I assume that’s what you mean?

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