Nathan leaves rehab outing with arm injury (updated)
Tigers reliever Joe Nathan underwent an examination and tests Wednesday afternoon after leaving his rehab appearance at Triple-A Toledo earlier in the day with what appeared to be a recurrence of his right flexor injury.
Nathan was scheduled to throw one inning and up to 25 pitches in the Mud Hens’ Wednesday morning game against Louisville. He had thrown 10 pitches (seven for strikes) with a groundout and a strikeout when his first-pitch fastball to Louisville’s Bryson Smith left him in pain.
“He felt a pop,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He thought it was possibly scar tissue, tried to throw another pitch, but it didn’t go so well. So we’re going to get it checked out.”
Nathan threw a warmup pitch but was clearly in pain, and he promptly left the game. Nathan’s fastball registered at 88-89 mph, with a few sliders mixed in at 85, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade.
#Tigers “I’ve never broken my arm in my life, but I assume this is what it feels like.” ~Nathan
— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) April 22, 2015
Nathan made a brief appearance at Comerica Park before heading out for an examination. Ausmus said they’re hoping for preliminary results Wednesday night.
Nathan, who went on the 15-day DL two weeks ago with a right elbow flexor strain, was anticipating Wednesday’s appearance being his final step towards a return as soon as Friday. Ausmus hadn’t committed to that timetable, preferring to wait and see how Nathan felt.
“It’s frustrating,” Ausmus said, “because I think he felt like he was close.”
Joakim Soria is 5-for-5 in save opportunities in Nathan’s absence, creating some suspense as to what the Tigers will do in the ninth inning once Nathan returns. That decision now appears to be on hold while they wait to see the extent of Nathan’s injury.
Regardless of the role, the Tigers felt like getting Nathan back was going to be a boost.
“It hurts,” Ausmus said. “Like I’ve said, we’re a better bullpen with Joe in it.”
A longer-term absence for Nathan could put more sense of urgency on getting hard-throwing youngster Bruce Rondon back. He has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with biceps tendinitis, and had his own setback earlier.
Rondon threw a brief bullpen session in Lakeland on Tuesday, according to Ausmus, and supposedly felt fine. He’s expected to throw a full bullpen from there, and continue his progression towards facing hitters and a possible rehab stint.