DETROIT -- It was supposed to be one of the last, if not the last steps in Joe Nathan's recovery from the 15-day disabled list. After Wednesday morning's rehab outing in Toledo, that may no longer be the case, as Nathan left a Triple-A appearance with the Mud Hens after 10 pitches.
Nathan's recovery from a right elbow flexor strain had been progressing well with no setbacks. He went on the DL on April 7 for discomfort he had been feeling in the last week of spring training. Tuesday, Nathan said he threw every pitch on Monday, and didn't hold back in his last bullpen session.
"We did the right thing when we needed to, so hopefully we're on the tail end of it, right now," Nathan had said on Tuesday. "I don't want to say we're out of the woods, we still have bruising and stuff to deal with. But from where it was to now, it seems very minor."
But, there are rehab stints for a reason. Scheduled to throw one inning and 25 pitches in the seventh inning at Toledo, Nathan's pitches looked strong when throwing his fastball, which hovered around 88-89 mph, MLive's James Schmehl reported.
Nathan's breaking ball was around 83-85 mph and got the first two batters on a groundout and strikeout. After throwing an offspeed pitch -- his 10th pitch of the inning -- however, Nathan winced in pain.
Mud Hens athletic trainer Chris McDonald spoke with Nathan on the mound, and Nathan was seen pointing to his right forearm. After just one warmup pitch, Nathan left the game visibly in pain and grabbing for his right elbow/forearm. Any progress that Nathan had been Nathan is now clearly on hold.
This is bad news for the Detroit Tigers. Regardless of the thought to whether Nathan should be closing, the Tigers' bullpen is not in a position of stability where they can simply lose another arm.
Ignore the plethora of arms already there, the Tigers need as much insurance as is possible. After Tuesday night's bullpen collapsed, showing what is in all likelihood its true colors, this is not the update the Tigers need to hear.