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Injured Twins' closer Nathan excited about playing catch

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan is on the verge of playing catch for the first time since season-ending elbow surgery.

Nathan said Friday he expects to pick up a ball this weekend for some soft tossing from about 45 feet. Those will be his first throws since he had the ligament replacement procedure in late March.

The four-time All-Star says he's excited about measurable progress in his recovery. His goal is to be cleared to pitch by the start of the 2011 season.

Nathan set a career high and a franchise record with 47 saves last season to help Minnesota win the AL Central. His 246 saves from 2004-09 were the most in the majors during that span.