MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Joe Nathan turned in perhaps his most impressive outing of the year against the Dodgers on Tuesday, as his fastball showed more velocity and life than it has at any point this season.
Nathan, who was activated from the disabled list on Friday after experiencing a setback in his comeback from last year's Tommy John surgery, looked more like his old self against the Dodgers.
According to MLB.com's Pitch-f/x data, Nathan's fastball averaged 93.2 mph.
"I'm trusting my fastball right now, which is nice," Nathan said. "Before, I was definitely throwing a lot of breaking balls and not working off my fastball. I was able to throw my heater, and the times that I did go to a breaking ball, it made them more effective. I think I only threw two breaking balls."
Nathan was correct, as 15 of his 17 pitches were fastballs. He used those heaters to overpower Dodgers hitters, striking out Matt Kemp, getting Juan Uribe to ground out and fanning James Loney to end the eighth inning.
"I think that's one of the things he had talked about -- being able to use his fastball a lot more," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He went out there, and we were looking for breaking balls, and he kept pumping fastballs. So I guess he was serious last time he said that."
Casilla held out as precaution on Wednesday
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla was held out of Wednesday's game against the Dodgers with a sore right thumb and stiff back, but he's expected to return to action on Friday against the Brewers.
"He had a thumb thing last night, where he kind of banged his thumbnail, and also has kind of a stiff back this morning," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's available if I need him off the bench, but he's not going to play [Wednesday]."
Casilla tweaked his back while taking batting practice before Tuesday's game against the Dodgers. But he felt well enough to go 1-for-3 with a double to help the Twins to a 6-4 win.
Gardenhire, though, wanted to be cautious with Casilla, and the manager gave Matt Tolbert the start at second base on Wednesday.
Injured Twins all making some progress
MINNEAPOLIS -- Delmon Young is continuing to make progress with his sprained right ankle, and the left fielder is expected to take fly balls and batting practice outdoors on Friday, Twins trainer Rick McWane said before Wednesday's game against the Dodgers.
Young, who received good news on Tuesday when an MRI revealed only swelling and a bone bruise in his ankle, has been working out indoors but will progress to baseball activities on Friday. He's eligible to come off the disabled list the day before the All-Star Game, so he won't be able to make his return until July 14.
Outfielder Denard Span, who suffered a concussion on June 10, is also expected to progress to baseball activities on the field at some point this weekend, according to McWane.
Meanwhile, Jason Kubel (sprained left foot) went 0-for-2 with three walks as the designated hitter in his first rehab game with Class A Fort Myers on Tuesday. He's slated to play right field with the Miracle on Wednesday night.
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Right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdomen strain) will start Wednesday's game for Fort Myers. Slowey is expected to throw 50 pitches. He's also on track to start on Monday with Triple-A Rochester.
Finally, first baseman Justin Morneau is scheduled to have surgery on his neck Wednesday afternoon to remove a herniated disk fragment and a pinched nerve.