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Detroit Tigers place closer Joe Nathan on 15-day disabled list

Joe Nathan has a right elbow flexor strain and is headed to the disabled list. Joakim Soria will close with Nathan out of commission.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT -- Joe Nathan is the latest of three Detroit Tigers to land on the disabled list. The right-handed closer has been placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Tuesday. Prior to Thursday's game Blaine Hardy will be officially recalled from Triple-A Toledo to fill in, and Joakim Soria will be closing while Nathan is on the disabled list.

The injury is being classified as a right elbow flexor strain and has been bothering Nathan since the end of the last week of spring training. Nathan pitched against one batter during Monday's Opening Day, when he faced former Tiger Torii Hunter. Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said that elbow was bothering him then, as well.

"It really hadn't cleared up for him and today it was still bothering him, and so he got checked," Dombrowski said. "We don't expect Joe (Nathan) to be out of action for more than a couple of weeks."

Asked if the visit to the disabled list would take care of the strain, the Tigers' GM said they are "hopeful."

Headed to Cleveland after the Twins series, the Tigers needed a left-handed pitcher due to the structure of the Indians' lineup. Hardy had been close to making the team during spring, and that coupled with how he performed in 2014 was why the Tigers went with him.

Once Nathan returns to the Tigers, Soria will resume his role as the setup man, and the closer job will be Nathan's once again. The Tigers haven't yet defined who will be the setup man while Soria closes, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus mentioned Joba Chamberlain as a possibility as he had the job last year. Ian Krol, who pitched an inning in Wednesday's blowout of the Twins, is also in the conversation.

"It had bothered (Nathan) a little bit toward the end of spring training," Ausmus said. "And I talked to him Monday, he said he was good. He had gone out and thrown, he said he was good. He said actually on the very last pitch he threw, he kind of felt it grab on Monday. Then he came in today, played catch, and from what he said, and how his face looked, you could tell it was bothering him quite a bit.

"Joe, in the time I've known him, he's never said I can't throw. Today he kind of, not in so many words, said I probably shouldn't throw today, which tells me it was really bothering him. So that's why we got the MRI."

Ausmus said that the injury is not located in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and that head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said the strain is "very common." The team opted to get the MRI in the afternoon when Nathan said he wasn't able to throw.

Nathan's trip to the disabled list marks the third Tigers player to be officially sidelined in three days time. Right-handed starter Justin Verlander and flame-throwing right-handed reliever Bruce Rondon also recently went on the disabled list. The Tigers are hopeful they'll get both Verlander and Rondon back in the near future.