Joe Nathan had two bone chips removed from his elbow Tuesday. He's expected to be recovered from the "cleanup" surgery by spring training.
It's not a huge shock that he had something wrong. He pulled out of the World Baseball Classic this spring, saying that he wasn't ready to pitch competitively that early, and while he saved 12 of 13 chances in Sept./Oct., he really didn't pitch well — by his standards, at least (3.38 ERA). And of course, he had a brutal outing in the ALDS against the Yankees.
How long he's had the problem, I don't know. His fastball velocity slipped two years ago, so I'm guessing he's pitched through the problem for a while.
Bill Clinton had a much-parodied line: I feel your pain. I don't think we do. I heard today a talk-radio idiot jeer at Justin Morneau for his second-half slump, and wondered: What part of a fractured vertebra don't you understand?
So too with Nathan. He pitched hurt, he worked more innings in Sept./Oct. than any other closer, and Patrick Reusse calls him a choker.
There's a old story — I've seen versions of it starring Sparky Anderson and Earl Weaver, so it's probably apocryphal — of a manager visiting a laboring pitcher.
Manager: How do you feel?
Pitcher: My elbow hurts.
Manager: Really? It don't bother me none.
And that's true. We don't feel Morneau's back, and we don't feel Nathan's elbow. We don't feel their pain, so it doesn't count.