All indications are that Joe Nathan will not pitch for the Minnesota Twins in 2010. The perennial All-Star closer is likely headed for Tommy John surgery after suffering a significant tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm.
But MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo writes that, as unlikely as it sounds, it is possible that Nathan could pitch this season with some effectiveness.
Mayo cites last season, when veteran Boston Red Sox reliever Takaski Saito opted not to have Tommy John surgery and pitch through the pain. He was reasonably effective, appearing in 56 games with a 2.43 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and .244 opponents’ batting average.
Saito, who is now with the Atlanta Braves, insists he’s all better now.
I, of course, remain skeptical of this. There are some similarities between what Nathan will go through and what Saito did go through. But my guess is there’s far more cases where this didn’t work out at all.