FORT MYERS, FLA. -- Twins closer Joe Nathan was bedridden Saturday and Sunday with a virus and still had a sore throat Monday, but he was in the training room, clinging to hope that he won't need reconstructive elbow surgery.

Nathan said he plans to play catch Saturday and give the elbow a vigorous test.

"When I feel loose -- if I do get loose -- I definitely want to test this thing as much as I can for Day 1 and see how it feels," Nathan said. "This is going to be something where there shouldn’t be a gray area. It’s going to be I feel great, or this just isn’t me, this doesn’t feel right."

The sore throat has made it difficult for Nathan to eat, and he said he's probably lost five to seven pounds. But he viewed the illness as a message from his body that it was time to shut down and get some rest.

Nathan, 35, said he's had time to come to grips with the prospect of having Tommy John surgery, which has a 12-month recovery period.

"A lot of people will probably talk about my age if I do have this surgery, and the only thing I can say -- and I hope it shuts everybody up after the first time they say it -- is that I don’t feel like I’m 35," he said. "I feel like I’m a lot younger than 35. A hundred percent of the people would agree that I probably have less years on my arm than mid-20-year-olds do.

"I didn’t start pitching until I was 24 years old, so right now I have about 11-12 years under my belt of throwing, which is a lot less than a lot of pitchers, so that’s one of the plusses."

Nathan hasn't been on the disabled list since 2000, when he had a shoulder injury with the Giants.

"Whatever happens in my career, I tell everybody you’ve gotta look at the bright side," he said. "For me, if the worst-case does happen, I see it as a chance to prolong my career. I see it as a chance to give myself a new arm and pitch for another five years after this. ... That's the worst-case scenario for me, coming back in 2011 with a brand new arm."

(Note: La Velle is in Jupiter, Fla., covering today's game against the Marlins. Head to his blog for the lineups, etc.)

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