Joe Nathan hasn’t been sitting idly by while the rest of the Texas Rangers pitchers have been appearing in Cactus League games this spring.
The veteran’s schedule has been paced to get him through a long spring training with a fresh arm and ready to close regular-season games beginning March 31.
He was throwing bullpen sessions and live batting practice along with the rest of the pitching staff before becoming the last of the Rangers’ healthy arms to appear in a game Sunday.
Nathan worked a scoreless fourth inning, pitching around a walk and a single, and called his day a success even though the Rangers lost 7-6 and also saw rotation candidate Martin Perez knocked out of action after taking a line drive off his left wrist.
“These are just preparation to get ready for Opening Day,” Nathan said. “Regardless of who’s in the box, you still need to get out there and get yourself ready.
“I felt good today. I felt good before this. I don’t know where I am in terms of arm strength, but everything feels status quo.”
Nathan said he threw five changeups, a pitch he is trying to throw with confidence to keep hitters guessing. He said he threw them in the fourth inning with the Rangers trailing 6-0 after Seattle rattled another candidate for the fifth rotation spot, Justin Grimm.
“I threw it more today than I have in probably the last seven years,” Nathan said.
The Rangers’ offense missed multiple chances early and late. They went 0 for 6 with the bases loaded, including three straight misses in the fifth inning.
“We just needed one hit,” manager Ron Washington said.