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Twins lose setup man for season because of elbow ligament tear

5/10/2008 - MLB Pat Neshek Minnesota Twins + more

MINNEAPOLIS -- Pat Neshek was bracing for bad news about his
right elbow, and that's what he got.

The Minnesota Twins placed their right-handed setup man on the
15-day disabled list Friday, after an MRI exam revealed an acute
partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in the sidearmer's
elbow.

Neshek will not be allowed to throw for a minimum of three
months, which means the injury has effectively ended his season.
But he said he won't need surgery.

The ulnar collateral ligament is the same ligament that pitchers have repaired when they undergo
Tommy John replacement surgery.

"Obviously it's really bad, but it's good I can come back and
rehab this and not have to go through surgery and sit out for a
good year," Neshek said after Friday's game, his arm fully
wrapped.

"So we're going to prepare for Opening Day next year. It just
needs a little bit of time to heal and a little bit of rehab to
build it back up."

Manager Ron Gardenhire called the situation "very sad."

"Whether he pitches again this year, for sure our goal is to
get him back healthy," Gardenhire said.

For now, Neshek, 27, will sit and rest as
Minnesota's bullpen tries to pick up the slack. Right-handers Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier probably will share the standard
eighth-inning role in front of closer Joe Nathan.

In 15 appearances, Neshek is 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA and 15
strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. To take his roster spot, the Twins
recalled left-hander Glen Perkins from Triple-A Rochester. Perkins
has been slated to start Saturday's game against Boston.

Neshek went 7-2 with a 2.94 ERA, a .183 batting average against
and 74 strikeouts while throwing 70 1/3 innings last season, his
first as the primary setup man.

He had weakness in his shoulder last September, but he's never had an injured elbow before.

He got hurt throwing a slider in the eighth Thursday afternoon
at Chicago, when he felt something "tweak" in the joint.

"It was weird. I felt really good on the mound," Neshek said
before Minnesota's 7-6 victory over Boston on Friday. "The pitch
just kind of gave out. It went kind of in the dirt, and I felt
something tweak on me in my elbow. It didn't really hurt. That's
what the weird thing was. I just felt like a weird movement, and it
felt out of place a little bit."

Some soreness came after the game, and Neshek said there was a
little more Friday morning. Though his sidearm delivery appears
violent, he said his slider doesn't put any more stress on his
elbow.

Neshek picked up the sidearm style in college after getting hit
in the forearm by a pitch in his last high school game. He was
asked, jokingly, if he'd go back to overhand now after getting hurt
again.

"Left-handed," Neshek deadpanned.