Joe Nathan’s debut with the Rangers on Thursday lasted all of seven pitches, but the veteran closer came away from the outing encouraged.
Nathan missed all of 2010 following Tommy John surgery, and struggled through 2011 while bouncing between a closing and set-up role with the Twins. But on Thursday, Nathan’s four-seam fastball topped out at 94 MPH, a pretty good indicator that he’s feeling a little better than last season. He also mixed in his two-seam and slider in a one-two-three effort.
"This is the best I've felt in a long time,'' Nathan said, per ESPN Dallas. "It's hard not to be excited about where I am right now.''
The Rangers gave Nathan a two-year deal worth $14.5 million this offseason--and manager Ron Washington is confident in the 37-year-old who is slated to take over the closing role manned by Neftali Feliz last season.
"Joe Nathan is a pro,'' Washington said Thursday. "What you saw today is what you're going to see every time he takes the ball. I know Joe. From the way he carries himself, and from what I've seen since he got here this spring, Joe Nathan is back.''