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News » Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan hasn't gotten the chance to work much this season

Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan hasn't gotten the chance to work much this season

Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan hasn't gotten the chance to work much this season
In situations like the one Joe Nathan was in Friday night, the closer never knows what will happen.

Pitching for the first time in six days and in a non-save situation, Nathan hoped first that he'd be sharp enough, and second that he wouldn't be too sharp -- too sharp yields overthrowing, and overthrowing, of course, yields few positive results.

Closers generally aren't thrilled to pitch when the game isn't in their hands, but if it means he can get in some work, Nathan said he'll take it. Nearly a month into the season, the right-hander has thrown 11 innings, putting him on pace for a career-low 57 this season. Of those 11 appearances, only six were save situations, and of those six, Nathan converted five.

"I've had some good days when I've gotten out there after a while, and I've had some very terrible days," he said. "All I can say now is I feel good, feel fine, feel strong, just hopefully not too strong."

On Friday, Nathan was encouraged. He came in for the ninth with Minnesota up 11-0 and retired the side in order, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.

The good part about pitching with such a lead? Nathan was able to break out two changeups (both to right-handed hitters), a pitch he threw in spring training this year but hasn't used in a game for several seasons, he said.

Asked before Friday's game if he has been pitching enough this year to at least stay sharp, Nathan chuckled.

"No, I think we all know that's probably not the case," he said. "It's also a situation, especially when we're on the road, it's not always easy to just throw me into a game, especially when we're losing and it's close. It's a situation right now where I know things are kind of not falling into place to get me out there. I know they're doing their best. With this game, I'm not too worried. I'm sure things will even out in the end, and I'll have some weeks here where I'll be begging for a week like I've had."

Same lineup: The Twins' four-homer outburst (along with Joe Crede's balky hamstring) on Friday prompted manager Ron Gardenhire to copy and paste his previous night's batting order into Saturday's lineup card.

Brendan Harris earned a second consecutive start at shortstop with his 2-for-4, three-run homer night on Friday, and Brian Buscher's three-run shot, combined with Crede's achy leg, put Buscher back at third.

Crede's left hamstring continues to improve, he said, but not enough to return to the field. He likely will miss the remainder of this series, rest his leg on Monday's off day and return to the lineup on Tuesday, Gardenhire said. The manager said he'd do his best to stay away from Crede even in a pinch-hitting situation, but Crede said, if needed, he could pinch hit.

"It feels good when I hit," said Crede, who has participated in batting practice the past two days. "It's not something that's load bearing when I hit."

Nick Punto, a switch-hitter, is batting .190, is hitless in his past 17 at-bats and is hitless in 17 at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season. Still, Gardenhire said he probably would plug the shortstop back into the lineup this afternoon against Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard. Right-handers are hitting .250 against Bedard this season, with lefties batting .188.

Briefly: Tony Oliva presented Joe Mauer with the catcher's first career Gold Glove before Saturday's game, and Rod Carew presented him with his second Silver Slugger Award and a second silver bat to commemorate Mauer's second American League batting title.

Mauer started at catcher on Saturday night, the first time since rejoining the team on May 1 that he has started three consecutive games. Gardenhire said he would speak with Mauer this morning to determine whether Mauer will be the designated hitter in the afternoon game, takes the day off completely, or, most unlikely, catches.

Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos broke the index finger on his glove hand and will miss two weeks, assistant general manager Rob Antony said.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 10, 2009

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