Nathan DHL Man of the Month for July

Nathan DHL Man of the Month for July

DETROIT -- Joe Nathan appeared to be the victim of circumstance just a month ago when his name was left off this year's American League All-Star Team.

Without the support of his club early in the year to help get Nathan a chance to pitch in save situations, the statistics put up by the 31-year-old weren't as gaudy as those he put up in his back-to-back All-Star bids in 2004 and 2005. Through the end of June, Nathan had a 1.90 ERA and allowed just a total of seven runs in 29 appearances.

But Nathan showed over the month of July just what he is capable of doing when given the opportunity, and it was also enough to earn him the DHL Delivery Man of the Month for July.

Nathan was a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities in July, and allowed just one earned run in 12 games en route to amassing a 0.75 ERA for the month. The Twins closer struck out 19 batters over 12 innings as he helped the Twins to close out the month with a stellar 18-8 record.

"I haven't done anything different than I did in the beginning of the season," Nathan said. "Just now, there have been closer games. Before it was going and getting three outs with a five or six run lead, now it's with one, two or three runs."

The right-hander is coming off consecutive 40-save seasons, becoming only the third pitcher in Twins history to accomplish that feat. He is currently 23 for 24 in save opportunities during the 2006 campaign, including recording his 100th save of his career, on June 24.

There may have been some frustration early on in the year for the lack of pitching opportunities, as Nathan threw just seven innings in April. But now that he is getting the chance to help out the club, it's a completely different feeling.

"It's nice to get the opportunities, but obviously the most important thing is to win games," Nathan said of his club that has won 40 of its last 52 games. "That's what it's all about right now -- going out and getting wins. The individual stuff for everyone on this team will take care of itself."

In recognition of this honor, DHL will donate $1,500 to Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) in Joe Nathan's name. A special advertisement will also run in Tuesday's edition of USA Today announcing the honor.

The "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award" winner is selected by a special Major League Baseball "yellow-ribbon" panel that includes newly elected Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter; Lou Piniella, former manager and player; Mike Bauman, national columnist for; Jerome Holtzman, the official MLB Historian and a member of the writer's wing of the Hall of Fame; and Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations, Major League Baseball.

At the conclusion of the season, Major League Baseball fans will have the opportunity to determine which relief pitcher had the best overall season through the second annual DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award.

A list of finalists will be selected based on statistical qualifiers, and fans will be able to vote for the winner online at Last season, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees was named the inaugural recipient of the DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.