The Minnesota Twins offseason got off to a dubious start this week as two of the team’s perennial All-Stars, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan both underwent “cleanup” surgeries.
Luckily both Nathan and Morneau are expected to be ready and healthy for the start of Spring Training after undergoing their respective procedures to remove bone chips.
Morneau had been hampered by an ailing right wrist prior to the end of his abbreviated season due to a stress fracture in his lower back. It was later revealed to be a bone chip and was removed Tuesday by Twins hand specialist Dr. Tom Verecka.
Despite the surgery, Morneau’s offseason game plan remains intact. Rest, rest and more rest. When Morneau was diagnosed with the stress fracture in his back he was told by doctors to rest for three months to allow the injury to heal.
It is believed that both injuries will have fully-healed and allowed Morneau to begin rehabilitation by Spring Training.
Nathan’s procedure comes as more of a surprise to most Twins fans, as few people knew he was having any issues. Nathan, however, knew otherwise.
"It's a case where I knew that [my elbow] was not 100 percent, but it wasn't really a problem until we really got in there and really took a look at it and got a chance to see that these bone chips can do some real damage if they aren't taken care of," Nathan said.
Nathan saw renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., who performed the surgery Tuesday morning and removed two bone chips from the closer's right elbow.
It is expected to take six to eight weeks before Nathan can begin a throwing program and up to three months before he’ll be cleared to pitch off of a mound.
Nathan figures that the surgery won’t put him too far off of his usual offseason throwing routine and could actually prove to have a positive impact.
"I think this could end up being a blessing in disguise," Nathan said. "It will give me a good opportunity to kind of get that time off that I need and give my body the rest that it probably needs right now."