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Updated: April 17th, 2011 9:59am
Joe Nathan out, Matt Capps in as Twins closer; Jim Hoey coming up?

Joe Nathan out, Matt Capps in as Twins closer; Jim Hoey coming up?

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Joe Nathan is no longer the Minnesota Twins' closer.

Manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed in a Sunday morning interview on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that he and pitching coach Rick Anderson made the decision on Saturday, shortly after Nathan blew a second consecutive save in a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay.

"We'll just take a step back and try to get him right and go from there," Gardenhire said.

"He wants to win ballgames. He loves to ball. He's not afraid to take the ball, but what might be best for the team -- and he left that up to -- is, and we told him, that's probably the right thing to do is give Capps the ball and back (him) off a bit."

Matt Capps will replace Nathan, who converted his first three save opportunities in his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery before his struggles in Tampa. Gardenhire said Nathan acknowledged he wasn't finishing hitters and left the decision up to coaches.

"Right now, he said he throws a pitch and he doesn't see it driving down like it used to at the end," Gardenhire said. "He's frustrated, because guys are pitching really good games and he's given it up a couple times."

"It's that slider that's not snapping like it was, and that's the one he used to get people to swing and miss at an awful lot. Now he's kind of gone to a little bit of a curveball, because his slider is still not there yet. And that's probably par for the course with the elbow thing like that."

The plan now, Gardenhire said, is to get Nathan into some lower-pressure situations until his command and confidence improves.

With Nathan moving out of the late-inning bridge, and with Capps moving to the ninth inning, the Twins must now find new eighth-inning options.

When asked if left-hander Jose Mijares is likely to take over most of the eighth-inning duties, Gardenhire said, "that's iffy," adding that Mijares is struggling with some mechanical issues right now.

Instead, Glen Perkins is likely to see more late-inning action.

Also, Gardenhire said a roster move is "imminent" in the bullpen, with Jim Hoey likely to be promoted from Class-AAA Rochester to replace Jeff Manship or Alex Burnett.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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