One of the many questions entering the 2011 season for the Twins was “Will Joe Nathan be ready?”

Twins faithful got their answer and that answer is apparently no.

The ball club announced that last seasons trade deadline acquisition Matt Capps will take over the closer role while Nathan tries to fully regain his composure. Nathan had two blown save opportunities on Thursday and then again on Saturday which prompted the move.

“Until I start getting that back, and I know I will at some time, I don’t want to put this team at any risk and cost them ballgames right now,” Nathan said. “I just thought it was the right thing to do for the ballclub and myself. Give myself a chance to get out there and still pitch on a consistent basis. Obviously that’s what I need to do. Getting away from where every pitch could cost us a game.”

Capps picked up the save in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday, his first save as the Twins’ official closer.

The Twins are dealing with a double-edged sword of sorts here. On the one hand, they will get consistent work out of Capps, whom they traded catching prospect Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for. But on the other hand, you want Nathan to be your man at the end as the Twins bullpen can’t take too much more weakening.

Prior to the switch, Capps was the Twins’ setup man and Nathan was the closer. Now Capps is the man and the Twins will cycle through setup men.

Nathan’s recent woes are not really much of a surprise. It was naive to think he would come back from Tommy John surgery and be 100 percent. Nathan missed all of the 2010 season due to the surgery and many doubted he would ever come back given his age and the severity of the surgery.

But Nathan passed all spring training tests and made his triumphant return during the Twins’ first series of the year in Toronto.

After that Nathan’s ERA would skyrocket to 8.44 in six games despite saving his previous three chances prior to Thursday. Even before the surgery, Nathan has shown signs of trouble in the ninth. He’s still one of the better closers in the league, but he still doesn’t provide a rock solid confidence when he enters the game.

Nathan will now have time to work on his stuff before he makes his second return. He spoke with manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson about possibly taking a hiatus from closing after he allowed two runs in a third of an inning Saturday.

Nathan is just one of many depleted Twins as stars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are both struggling with illnesses. Mauer is on the 15-day DL and Morneau sat out Sunday’s win in Tampa. Nathan hopes he’ll be back sooner, and better than ever.

“We’re definitely close, it’s not like I’m miles away,” Nathan said. “I don’t think this is too far off.”

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