Twins' Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau on Track to Return Healthy in 2011
Nathan, the Twins' All-Star closer, missed the entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Smith said Nathan's rehab so far has been textbook.
"He is doing very well," Smith said during a break from the GM Meetings on Tuesday. "He's throwing long-toss. He's had no setbacks. We expect him to be on a mound in December, and build up to spring training. We expect him to be ready."
Smith that he was definitely keeping Matt Capps, who is arbitration-eligible, and Nathan, because they could lose as many as six other pitchers from their bullpen to free agency. Capps has told the Twins he's happy going to an eighth-inning role if Nathan returns as the closer.
Smith also said that Morneau, who missed the second half because of a concussion, is doing well.
"Morneau is making progress," Smith said. "Doctors are telling us we should expect him to be ready for spring training."
The Twins remain unsure about Jim Thome. The slugger, who is a free agent, has not decided if he wants to play again, Smith said.
"It's really a question for Jim Thome," Smith said. "He was a great addition to our ballclub. We'd love to have him back."