Pitching a baseball has been described as the most violent action in all of sports. As such, it's no surprise that arm injuries are so common among big-league pitchers. The Twins have their share of experience with devastating arm injuries with Francisco Liriano having sat out the 2007 season after Tommy John surgery and Pat Neshek set to do the same this year. They are lucky to enter the 2009 season with all five members of their rotation seemingly healthy, but in the bullpen, concerns are brewing.
The question that begs asking: will shoulder injuries become a nightmare for the 2009 Twins? They've struck two of the team's right-handed bullpen arms in recent years, and now questions have surfaced surrounding the closer. We can't forget that shoulder issues are not far in Glen Perkins's rearview mirror.
Jesse Crain appears fully recovered from the shoulder operation he underwent in 2007, but Boof Bonser is set to miss the upcoming season after having shoulder surgery of his own. Now, Joe Nathan has announced that he's withdrawing from the World Baseball Classic due to some shoulder issues. The problem is currently being labeled a sore acromioclavicular (AC) joint and there is no indication that it is serious, but given my worrisome nature when it comes these matters, the news that Nathan has been feeling discomfort when throwing immediately sent pings of terror to my very core.
Nathan is among the most important and irreplaceable players on the Twins roster, and losing him for any extended portion of time could seriously jeopardize the team's chances of contending in '09. The loss of its last remaining true right-handed power arm could spell doom for a bullpen already shrouded in questions and concerns.
Of course, I must repeat that the reports that have come out so far don't give any true cause for alarm and I'm probably just worrying too much. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this news is that with Nathan abandoning Team USA, my obligations as a Twins fan almost force me to cheer for Canada in Saturday's match-up. Hopefully that's the worst thing to come out of this.