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Updated: May 28th, 2011 5:18pm
Joe Nathan headed to disabled list with no return date set

Joe Nathan headed to disabled list with no return date set

by Nate Sandell
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The Twins placed reliever Joe Nathan on the disabled list Saturday after he had been experiencing tenderness in his right elbow.

Nathan, who hasn't pitched since Monday, has had lingering pain in the elbow all week. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI later in the day to verify the severity of the injury.

"It would be one thing if we were closer to the front of this pack and competing, it'd be a lot tougher for me to go on the DL," Nathan said. "But with us scuffling right now, it at least makes the decision easier."

While he doesn't fear the soreness could be something more serious, Nathan is being careful not to set a date for his return.

"We're not putting a timeline on this," Nathan said. "We want for when I do come back for the soreness to be gone and be ready to go... I'm prepared for anything from 10 days to a month.

This is one of the first setbacks in his comeback from Tommy John surgery last year. Head trainer Rick McWane said his staff had anticipated the possibility there could be a delay before Nathan returned to full-strength.

"We obviously hoped he wouldn't have any problems, but I wouldn't say it isn't uncommon to have a setback or two with what he's going through," McWane said. "He's gotten better over the past week - it bothered him pretty good a few days ago. It's just a matter of getting him over the hump."

Coming back from a major surgery like Tommy John can be a long and grueling process, but Nathan has remained upbeat.

"To be where I am, I still like that I'm ahead of the game in a lot of ways... All of this that I've accomplished is all part of the process. It's all part of the healing process. What I've done in the last three months will help in the long run. "

The team plans for him to continue his rehab in Ft. Myers, Fla., where he can log playing time in extended spring training games.

Left-handed reliever Chuck James was called up from Class-AAA Rochester Saturday night to fill Nathan's spot.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to
Email Nate | @nsandell
In this story: Joe Nathan, Tsuyoshi Nishioka