"The one thing I know in spring is I just can't get to that level of adrenaline," Nathan said, "and I found this out when I first got to Minnesota. My velocity's always very low in the spring."
He never knew that when he was a young prospect in the Giants' organization a decade ago. Spring Training parks didn't all have radar gun readings back then, and coaches didn't tell him. He realized it once he became a Twin.
"I got to camp for the first time with Minnesota, and everyone kept coming up and asking me if I was all right," he said. "I was like, 'I feel great,' and I was actually getting guys out. I'd feel good, but you're 88-90 [mph]. Well, maybe I don't feel that good."
By the end of camp, the velocity would kick in, likely out of adrenaline.
"I don't know what it is," Nathan shrugs. "I don't feel like I'm not getting out there and getting after it. Something clicks. Hopefully it does again this year. I'm always waiting for that one year when it doesn't."
Actually, it's pretty close now. Nathan hit 91 mph in his last outing Thursday, according to manager Brad Ausmus. His fastball averaged 92.2 mph last year in Texas, according to STATS.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.