Commentary

Spring training position battles

A daily rundown of the MLB battles for playing time in March and April

Updated: March 9, 2010, 4:34 PM ET
By Jason Catania, Charles Curtis and Doug Mittler | ESPN Insider

Minnesota Twins: Closer

Who will step in for Nathan? We warned you Monday, and now, the Twins learned the worst possible news Tuesday: Closer Joe Nathan has a significant tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

Nathan will try to pitch again in two weeks, but if that doesn't go well, he could undergo season-ending surgery. The Twins are now scrambling to replace one of their cornerstone players, who had a career-high 47 saves last season. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote Monday that the Twins would look to replace Nathan from within the organization should the injury be serious.

The leading candidate is our pick as well -- Jon Rauch, who saved 17 games for the Nationals in 2008. Other options include Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares and Pat Neshek.

Olney cited some rival talent evaluators who said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's best alternative at closer might be Guerrier, who was dominant last season with a 0.97 WHIP and only 16 walks in 76.1 innings.

Keith Law

Crain has a closer-caliber arsenal

"Guerrier's pretty hittable -- a guy who pounds the zone like most Twins pitchers. I have always liked Crain; he had an off year last year, but he has the raw stuff to be a good closer who misses bats if he throws more strikes."



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Doug Mittler

Rumor Central