By Ashley Dunkak

CBS DETROIT – On Wednesday, exactly one week after tearing his UCL and flexor tendon during a rehab appearance, Detroit Tigers reliever Joe Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery, according to the Detroit Free Press.

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Nathan had pitched in only one game this season – on Opening Day – before he landed on the disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain. Nathan was in the last stage of a return from that injury when he suffered the season-ending blow last Wednesday.

At the time, the pitcher was hopeful that the pop he felt and heard in his arm was just scar tissue breaking up, but obviously he got the worst-case scenario instead. His recovery will be significantly longer than the average for pitchers who undergo Tommy John since he tore the flexor tendon as well as the UCL.

“With Tommy John, they usually say not to pick up a ball for four or five months,” Nathan said last week. “I think with this, it’s, I believe at least eight months until you can pick a baseball up, so again, each case is different. History has shown that I’ve been able come back quicker, so hopefully that’s the case here.

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“Next season would be – it’d be pushing it to start the beginning of the season, but again, it’s one of those things you’ve just got to see how you feel,” Nathan added. “To say I can’t do that wouldn’t be fair, but it’s also I think a quick turnaround to be ready for the beginning of the season next year.”

Nathan is already 40 years old, so a comeback seems unlikely, but catcher Alex Avila expressed confidence Nathan could accomplish it if anyone could.

“Surgery is never good, but he’s done it before,” Avila said last week. “He’s come back from injuries before. The thing about Joe, he’s a tireless worker. His body’s in great shape, he’s a tremendous athlete, so I wouldn’t put it past him whatsoever.”

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