Joe Nathan had an up-and-down year in 2011 as the Twins closer, with the down ending up somewhat overshadowed by a pretty good September.
His work was perceived as good enough for the Texas Rangers to sign him to a two-year deal worth $14.5 million.
The results this spring have not been promising: Nathan has given up eight earned runs -- on eight hits and three walks -- in seven innings. During his Twins years, fans had to be reassured about Nathan's velocity during spring training, but come the start of the regular season, he was pretty close to automatic in save situations until the Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for the 2010 season.
Signing Nathan allowed the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz from being the Texas closer into the starting rotation, where he's had a rough spring, too.
That's resulted in this prediction from Bleacher Report's Mark Swindell: "Look for Feliz to be the closer by mid-May and Nathan to be a 7th inning type reliever. When it is all said and done, Feliz will finish the 2012 season with more saves than Joe Nathan."
Read the entire Bleacher Report post here.
We know that spring training is a small sample size and that its numbers can deceive. But here's one last comparison: From 2006-09, Nathan picked 36 spring training innings and yielded only six earned runs.
So even when he was finding his velocity in Fort Myers, Nathan wasn't getting bombed.
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