Nathan’s 2010 season could be over before it starts

The momentum built from an offseason full of optimism for Minnesota Twins fans came to a screeching halt Tuesday.

It appears Twins closer Joe Nathan could very likely end up having season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a "significant tear" in the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow.

This would be a big blow to the Twins chances if he opts to go that route. Nathan said he’s going to do what he can to pitch this year, even if it’s in pain. He’s going to rest for the next couple of weeks to see how things go.

I suggested after last season the Twins consider trading Nathan if they needed to free up money to sign Mauer (we’ve seen since then that their payroll has skyrocketed and a trade would not have been necessary). But I think after an injury popped up earlier in the offseason and now this, we’re beginning to see why that would have been difficult.

Despite all of that, Nathan’s loss – or any drop in his performance should he choose to pitch through the pain – would significantly hamper what looked like a very strong Twins bullpen coming into the season. There were solid set-up men in Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Jose Mijares and depth in front of them with Pat Neshek, Clay Condrey and Jesse Crain among those vying for spots in the ‘pen.