I chatted with Pat Neshek yesterday at the Metrodome, as he was in town to see Twins physician Dr. Dan Buss.
The visit was for Neshek, who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last November, to get clearance to begin throwing off a mound.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday that Neshek did indeed get clearance, although he’ll start by throwing just fastballs at first and working up to throwing breaking pitches again.
Neshek said that with his current program he’ll be “game-ready” by mid-November but the plan is not to have him pitch any winter ball. Instead, he’ll remain in Fort Myers during the winter to work with Twins Minor League rehab coordinator Lanny Tucker so that he’ll be ready to go at the start of Spring Training.
While everything has been going well in his rehab process, Neshek said he’s had a mild case of tendinitis in his right elbow. But he spoke with a couple other Twins pitchers who had Tommy John, Carl Pavano and Jeff Manship, and both told Neshek that it’s normal for that to happen in the recovery process.
“There is nothing wrong with the ligament where i had the surgery,” Neshek said. “The doctors say that’s really strong. So I can work with a little tendinitis.”
Having not pitched for the Twins since May 2008, Neshek acknowledges that this process hasn’t been completely easy on him. But he’s looking forward to finally getting back with the team in February.
“It’s a long road,” Neshek said. “I’m just taking it day by day
right now. I just want to feel like I felt [before the elbow injury] and it’s starting to feel like that already. I have
no clue how my arm’s going to respond. If it goes according to plan,
I’ll be good to go in Spring Training.”