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Updated: February 16th, 2011 3:17pm
Joe Nathan throws 'outstanding' bullpen session

Joe Nathan throws 'outstanding' bullpen session

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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If the Minnesota Twins plan to contend in the American League Central this season, the contributions of right-hander Joe Nathan will be crucial.

On Wednesday, the closer -- who is 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery -- threw one of his best post-surgery bullpen session.

Pitching coach Rick Anderson said Nathan's mound session was "outstanding," according to the Associated Press, and "about the smoothest and easiest" he's seen Nathan throw since last year.

"Everything's a progression," Anderson said. "Throwing bullpens, you're a little sore. Then you go to batting practice, that's a little more adrenaline going. Then once the games start, there's a lot more adrenaline. How he does with each step dictates where we'll go with him."

Nathan threw all of his pitches and said, "things are moving in the right direction."

Earlier in the week, the Star Tribune reported Nathan's fastball was clocked at 88-89 mph, which is harder than he would usually throw in mid-February, even with a fully healthy arm.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers on Thursday, with workouts beginning Friday. Full squad workouts begin February 23.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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In this story: Joe Nathan
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