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Updated: July 19th, 2010 6:22pm
Notebook: Morneau not improving; Nathan throws for first time

Notebook: Morneau not improving; Nathan throws for first time

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau (concussion) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, but it sounds like he'll be out longer than that.

"He's been waking up in the mornings and feeling good, and as the day goes along not so good," Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So we're still about the same place with him, and as I said before, we're going to let him get well. He won't be coming to the park."

Morneau is scheduled to see a specialist on Tuesday -- Dr. Steven Morgan, who also works with the Vikings and Wild -- and Gardenhire said the first baseman is unlikely to travel with the team to Baltimore later this week.

"It's something that you don't deal with hardly ever, so I don't really know," Gardenhire said. "You talk to him, he's groggy, and you can't do anything about it. How long it's going to last, we don't know. No one knows. The doctors can only guess too with this stuff.

"I don't have an answer for you. Concerned, absolutely. I'm concerned that he gets healthy before we ever even think about anything, obviously. The big thing right now is with him just getting healthy, and them telling us, 'OK, he's ready to go.' And no one's even close to doing that right now it sounds like."

Morneau currently ranks second in the major leagues in batting average (.345), first in on-base percentage (.437) and third in slugging percentage (.618).

The Twins are 4-4 in Morneau's absence. 

Nathan throws for first time since surgery

Joe Nathan, who underwent Tommy John surgery nearly four months ago, threw a baseball for the first time since March on Monday.

Nathan threw two sets of 10 from 45 feet, "with a little firm to it," he said, "making sure I got it there and to his chest. Everything felt good."

"I think it's exactly what we wanted to do for today, just to kind of break the ice, knock the dust off not only my elbow, but my shoulder as well."

Nathan said it felt odd throwing for the first time in four months, and he's been fighting the urge to keep from pushing forward too fast in the rehab process.

"I've been excited for this day for a long time," Nathan said. "I woke up today and was just excited to get in here. I actually walked out on the field, had some nerves, was a little nervous, but not scared by any means. I think just real anxious to get this moving along."

Nathan is scheduled to throw again on Wednesday and will eventually start moving back from 45 feet.

"Everybody feels like I'm on track. You don't want to say you're ahead of schedule, because usually in Tommy John sense that not a good thing. If you get ahead of schedule, that usually means there's going to be setbacks. That's why we always emphasize and talk about the importance of being patient, and not thinking you're ahead of the game and you can push forward, because that usually means you're going to just set yourself back further and further."

Nathan has been doing elbow and shoulder exercises for the last four months, and he has been a fixture in the Twins' clubhouse all season, which is somewhat bittersweet for the 10-year veteran.

"It's helped and it's been hard," Nathan said. "As you guys can expect, it's something where you want to be out on the field, you want to help these guys out, especially when it's a race like this.

"It's helped me to be around this game, and be around the atmosphere of this new stadium... It's been a fun season, but at the same time it's been very hard as well."


* Alexi Casilla, out with an elbow injury since the end of May, is currently on a rehab assignment with Class-AA New Britain, is "really, really close" to rejoining the team, Gardenhire said.

Saturday is officially the last day of Casilla's rehab stint, but the Twins can summon him at any point before that if they choose.

Gardenhire hinted strongly that he'd like the utility infielder to be called up for Wednesday's matinee game at Target Field.

* Matt Tolbert remains sidelined with a finger injury, and it doesn't sound like he's particularly close to returning.

Tolbert is "about the same," Gardenhire said.

"His finger is bothering him, throwing and hitting, and he's probably going to end up staying here and eventually going on a rehab assignment. He's going to have to play for a few games."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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