Detroit Tigers closer Joe Nathan has an ulnar-collateral ligament tear and flexor pronator tear, both of which will require surgery according to the team.
Nathan, 40, had been trying to rehab his injured elbow with a rehab stint in Triple-A Toledo. Yesterday, Nathan suffered a huge setback during a rehab game, only being able to throw 10 pitches. As he was leaving the field, Nathan was seen grabbing his injured elbow that now requires season ending surgery, saying he heard a pop.
Joe Nathan will return to Detroit and await further instruction. Felt a "pop," but didn't want to speculate. Said it could be scar tissue.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) April 22, 2015
Is this the end for Nathan?
During a 15 year career, Nathan has complied 377 saves, good enough for 7th all time. The 40-year-old will miss at least 12 months with rehab, putting him at age 41 for a potential return to the big leagues -- if he does at all.
This is also the second time that Nathan will undergo Tommy John surgery. In 2010, Nathan had surgery on the same injury right elbow.
This means the Tigers rely on Soria for now
The Tigers were prepared for this blow, as Joakim Soria has been the Tigers closer while Nathan has been out. Soria has fared well in the early going as the closer, with 5 saves and a 1.35 ERA over eight games.
While he was with the Royals, Soria had two 40-plus save seasons: 42 in 2008 and 43 in 2010; the two years that Soria was an All-Star.
Update -- Not so fast, doubters:
Joe Nathan said he is going to rehabilitate as if he's coming back to be a major league pitcher, he said.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) April 23, 2015
"I am preparing myself to be a major league player again," Nathan said. "That is my goal."— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) April 23, 2015