Joe Nathan will be returning to the San Francisco Giants on a minor league contract. (Courtesy Topps)

Joe Nathan will be returning to the San Francisco Giants on a minor league contract. (Courtesy Topps)

Giants bring back Joe Nathan on minor league contract

Optimistically seeking bullpen help down the stretch, the Giants signed 41-year-old reliever Joe Nathan to a minor league contract on Tuesday. The former All-Star closer who began his career with the Giants will report to Double-A Richmond to be evaluated by the club.

Nathan has pitched just 2.1 innings in the MLB over the last two years, most recently firing two scoreless innings for the Chicago Cubs last month.

“We understand he doesn’t have the same fastball that he used to have,” said Giants general manager Bobby Evans. “At the same time, he can at least get a chance to get looked at and we’ll see where things fall.”

After pitching over stretches of four seasons for the Giants from 1999 to 2003, Nathan was traded to the Minnesota Twins alongside left-hander Francisco Liriano and right-hander Boof Bonser in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

The trade has long been considered one of the worst in Giants history as Nathan developed into one of the most dominating closers of the 2000s. Pierzynski, on the other hand, alienated himself from teammates and fans and lasted just one year with the organization.

Following San Francisco’s recent bullpen woes, a September call up for Nathan could be in the works when the lineups expand if Nathan proves worthy in the minors. Bobby Evansjoe nathanMLBSan Francisco Giantsteddy luther

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