Joe Nathan RP DET 21 Hrs

Nathan had a thumbnail issue after his most recent appearance Thursday against the Orioles, the Tigers' official site reports.

Nathan's thumbnail was cutting into his thumb, according to manager Brad Ausmus. Upon the completion of his outing, Nathan had blood on his pants, and it's believed that he was having difficulty gripping the ball. Command has been a problem for Nathan this spring, while his fastball was clocked at 89-90 mph during Friday's appearance. Nathan was scheduled for three straight off-days following Thursday's appearance anyway (he had pitched on consecutive days), and the hope is that he'll be ready to pitch again early this week. Ausmus told reporters that there is no late-spring competition for the closer role, though it should be noted that Joakim Soria picked up the save Friday and that he hasn't allowed a baserunner since March 12.

Joe Nathan RP DET 22 Days

Nathan tossed a scoreless fifth inning in Saturday's Grapefruit League contest against the Braves.

After giving up a pair of hits in a scoreless spring debut Tuesday, Nathan struck out one and needed just five pitches to record his three outs Saturday. He's on track to open the season as the Tigers' closer, albeit with much less leash than he worked with in 2014.

Joe Nathan RP DET 1 Month

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said that Nathan looked good while throwing fastballs and sliders during a bullpen session Wednesday, the Detroit News reports.

Poor mechanics were blamed for Nathan's struggles last season, as it took the veteran closer several months to lower his arm slot. If Nathan is more comfortable with the adjustments heading into 2015, he may be able to rebound enough to stave off Joakim Soria, Bruce Rondon, and Joba Chamberlain from the ninth-inning role this season.

Joe Nathan RP DET 1 Month

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus confirmed that Nathan is the team's closer to begin the spring, the Detroit News reports.In addition to confirming Nathan as the closer, Ausmus stated that Joakim Soria is the team's eighth-inning setup man. While those roles are exactly what has been planned throughout the offseason, it's clear that the leash for Nathan is shorter than it has been in the past, as Soria and Bruce Rondon could become options to step into the ninth-inning role if Nathan's 2014 struggles persist.

Joe Nathan RP DET 2 Months

Nathan adjusted his offseason workouts this winter with the hope adding more agility and flexibility, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports.

After struggling in 2014, Nathan is out to prove that he still has something left in the tank. Tigers general manager Dave Dombroski indicated in October that he expects Nathan to begin the season as the team's closer, but a healthy Joakim Soria may be waiting in the wings if the 40-year-old shows any signs of prolonged struggles.

Joe Nathan RP DET 6 Months

GM Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that he expects Nathan to open 2015 as the Tigers' closer, James Schmehl of MLive.com reports.

Dombrowski added the caveat that performance will ultimately dictate roles, but it sounds like he's confident the 39-year-old right-hander will secure the ninth-inning job in the spring. Despite an absolutely dismal first half from Nathan (5.61 ERA), the Tigers stuck with him as closer all year, resulting his ninth 35-plus save campaign in his last 10 seasons.

Joe Nathan RP DET 6 Months

Nathan had one of his best outings of the season against Minnesota on Thursday, retiring the side with two strikeouts, to earn his 34th save of the season.

Nathan threw eight pitches, all for strikes, making quick work of the Twins, in a much-needed clean outing. It's been a bumpy ride for Nathan this year, but he remains the man in the ninth inning for Detroit.

Joe Nathan RP DET 6 Months

Nathan was charged with his seventh blown save of the season Tuesday, giving up two earned runs on two hits and a walk, including a walk-off infield single to Aaron Hicks in the bottom of the ninth.

It would be surprising if the Tigers changed any of the relievers' roles at this stage in the season, so despite his significant struggles, owners looking for saves would still be wise to hold onto Nathan.

Joe Nathan RP DET 7 Months

Nathan notched his 30th save of the season Tuesday against the Royals, but it wasn't without drama, as he allowed two baserunners before recording his second out of the ninth inning.

With runners on first and second and one out in a two-run game, Nathan was able to pick Jarrod Dyson off at second base, making the save much more manageable. He allowed two hits and recorded two strikeouts, but still kept his pitch count under 20 (18), so he should be available again Wednesday, should the situation arise.

Joe Nathan RP DET 7 Months

Nathan was unavailable the past few days due to elbow soreness, but is available Monday, Matthew B. Mowery of the Oakland Press reports.

Nathan may have been unavailable the past few days, but the team was never in a situation where they needed him. The 39-year-old has struggled in the closer role for the Tigers this season, posting a 5.04 ERA and 1.54 WHIP while blowing six saves. His K/IP ratio has also dipped below one for the first time in three seasons (0.98). At any rate, he will likely continue as the Tigers' closer for the remainder of this season, and is under contract for another, so it will be interesting to see what the team decides to do with him in the offseason.