"Until we know further, we're all optimistic that it's just scar tissue and we can move forward," Smith said. "We were going to give him a couple days anyway, so let's take advantage of it, send him up there, get the tests done and move forward."Nathan is certainly a key component to the Twins' bullpen, and if he has to miss any time early in the season, it would be a significant blow to a team that has high expectations for the 2010 season. The closer set a Twins single-season record with 47 saves in 2009, and he's recorded 36 or more saves in six consecutive seasons, making him only the second pitcher in big league history to accomplish the feat. Manager Ron Gardenhire said it's too early for the Twins to start worrying about contingency plans if Nathan's out. "If there was major concern, someone would have told me that," Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star Tribune during the Twins' 15-5 split-squad loss against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla. "They just want to make sure we're on the same path here. Get him checked out and we'll go from there." Nathan said that despite the surgery, he felt he was ahead of schedule this spring prior to feeling the tightness in his elbow on Saturday. So his hope is that this will only be a minor setback. "I think we always expect speed bumps when you are coming back from surgery," Nathan said. "It's nice that if there is a time to have it happen, it happened in my first game and not my last game down here. Now, we're staring at the season starting and me missing time during the season. I'm just going to hope it's as minor as it can be and hopefully it doesn't go into the regular season. ... But until we get the information and know exactly what's going on, I don't want to say anything [about a timetable] right now."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.