Tigers putting closer Nathan on DL with elbow strain

DETROIT (AP) On the same day they officially put Justin Verlander on the disabled list, the Detroit Tigers announced another pitching injury that was more of a surprise.

Joe Nathan is dealing with a strained right elbow, and the Tigers said after Wednesday's win over Minnesota that he will go on the 15-day DL. The Detroit closer struck out the only batter he faced in Monday's opener, getting the save in a victory over Minnesota, but general manager Dave Dombrowski said a flexor problem has been a problem for Nathan.

''I think it bothered him more at the end of last week, a little bit. And it bothered him a little bit on Monday, the day he pitched,'' Dombrowski said Wednesday. ''Not major, but it just hasn't cleared up for him.''

The Tigers were set to recall left-hander Blaine Hardy from Triple-A Toledo for Thursday's game against the Twins. Joakim Soria will take over as Detroit's closer in Nathan's absence.

''It had bothered him a little bit toward the end of spring training, and I talked to him Monday, he said he was good,'' manager Brad Ausmus said. ''He had gone out and thrown, he said he was good. He said actually on the very last pitch he threw, he kind of felt it grab on Monday. Then he came in today, played catch and from what he said and how his face looked you could tell it was bothering him quite a bit.''

The 40-year-old Nathan is beginning his second season with the Tigers. He struggled in 2014, blowing seven saves and finishing with a 4.81 ERA.

Verlander was expected for about a week to go on the DL, and Detroit made the move official Wednesday.

Detroit recalled left-hander Kyle Lobstein to take his place in the starting rotation. Lobstein is slated to pitch Sunday at Cleveland, and Verlander hopes that's the only start he will have to miss because of a strained right triceps.

''I think it's going to go away, for sure,'' Verlander said. ''It seems like it's been forever and we're only on day 11 or 12 or something right now, which is not that long for a strain.''

Detroit announced last week that Verlander would go on the DL for the first time in his career. The team initially thought Verlander might be able to start Sunday against the Indians, so Detroit wouldn't have to bring up a replacement starter. But Ausmus said Wednesday he won't be able to pitch in that game.

''We're extremely optimistic that he'll make his next start,'' Ausmus said. ''Yesterday, he felt good throwing. But he was just long tossing.''

Verlander is on the DL retroactive to March 29.

''Some days are really good. Some days it's a little cranky, but definitely a lot better than it was a few days ago, or a week ago,'' Verlander said. ''So, it's definitely trending in the right direction. It's obviously taking longer than I would like, but it's just one of those things where you can't really speed up the process. You've just got to wait until you're ready.''

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