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Apr 23, 2015 12:19 PM

Tigers closer Nathan out for year with torn elbow ligament

The Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) Tigers closer Joe Nathan will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow.

Nathan tore his ulnar collateral ligament on Wednesday while pitching on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Toledo. Hoping to show that he was ready to come off the disabled list, he tore both his previously strained flexor pronator and his UCL.

"I felt great for my first two hitters, but on the first pitch to the third batter, boom," Nathan said Thursday. "I guess I tore both of them on one pitch."

The 40-year-old is a six-time All-Star, but is coming off one of his worst seasons he had a 4.84 ERA in 2014 and blew seven saves and would be having Tommy John surgery for the second time in five years.

Still, he wasn't ready to announce his retirement.

"I'm going to go at this 110 percent, just like I do anything, and I'm going into it with the goal of pitching again in the major leagues," he said. "If it doesn't work out that way, the surgery and the rehab will make my arm stronger for the rest of my life, but that's not how I'm thinking about it."

Nathan will make $10 million this season, but the Tigers are expected to buy out his 2016 option for $1 million. That would leave him at 41, without a team and unable to pitch in spring training.

"I know this is going to be a long grind," he said. "I've had Tommy John surgery before, so I know what I'm facing there, but this time I have also torn the flexor, so it is a bigger deal. I'm just going to be patient and do what I need to do."


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