Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com is reporting that Twins closer Joe Nathan is set to meet with Dr. James Andrews to discuss options concerning his torn ulnar collateral ligament. Nathan is coming off a 47 save season, posting a 2.10 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 70 appearances.
If Nathan is forced to shut down for the entire season, it would be a huge blow to the Twins' bullpen. Mayo says that the 35-year old closer will rest a week or two before determining if he can pitch again.
The former All-Star will not immediately have surgery. Instead, he will rest and rehab, working to build up the elbow, over the next week or two. After that time period, Nathan will make a determination if he can pitch with the injury or will need an operation to repair it.
Despite missing all of the 2009 season, it is possible we could see Pat Neshek fall into the closer role if he can prove to be fully healthy this spring. So far, he's appeared in two innings, striking out two. Another option would be reliever Matt Guerrier, who posted a 2.36 ERA in 79 games last season.
The Twins have solid relievers, but losing one means the whole bullpen would have to be reshuffled, which is certainly a concern for manager Ron Gardenhire.