In his last three appearances, Joe Nathan has not allowed a hit or run or walk while striking out four. "I'm starting to trust my fastball a little more," the Minnesota Twins reliever said. "I feel I've got more 'finish' on my pitches now. So we're turning the corner." Nathan, 36, missed last season rehabbing from ligament replacement surgery. His fastball is reaching 94-mph. "The more you throw heaters and locate heaters, it makes your breaking ball a lot more effective," he said. "I feel comfortable with my fastball, and my breaking pitches are starting to be down more often than not. "Earlier this year, (the breaking ball) was kind of just a flat, spinning slider. I think now that I'm starting to at least get those pitches where I want them - down in the zone - and get hitters to swing over them. That's what I'm looking for." Nathan said he's still breaking up scar tissue when he throws and that he can feel the sensation. "The first time it happens, it's pretty scary because it almost feels like you've popped something," he said. "If you don't know what it is you're going through, you can think you've torn something again." The first scar tissue break Nathan felt was near the end of May. "It didn't know what it was," he said. "I think my muscles being so tight kind of guarded against being able to do it. I went back to throw, and my arm came out, and just before I released (the pitch), something just zapped in it. And you're like, 'What was that?' "At first, it got pretty sore, and I was thinking, 'What are we going to do? This thing's killing me now. I flared it back up.' But I came in the next day and said I might as well give it a shot and try to throw. You don't realize until the next day that you probably broke up some scar tissue because then you feel absolutely amazing." As Nathan is coming back, so are the Twins. They are eight games behind first-place Cleveland after being 16-1/2 out of first on June 1.
Joe Nathan 'turning the corner'
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Jul 6