DETROIT (AP) -
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan is getting ready for another season of big league baseball, with no talk of retirement at age 40.
The Detroit Free Press says Nathan has been putting in some of his best conditioning work of recent years as he prepares for the 2015 season, using facilities at the University of Tennessee baseball weight room among others.
Nathan has had a number of injuries over the years to his shoulder and elbow. But as far as he's concerned, there's still a lot of baseball ahead of him.
He says he still has something to prove. That includes improving on last season's 4.81 ERA and getting a shot at a World Series ring with the Tigers.
"Do I feel like I'm playing on bonus time?" he asked. "No, because I still have something to prove. I've put the time in. I do this every year and, because of that, I feel like that's why I'm still playing."
Could he have imagined still pitching in the Major Leagues at age 40 back when he was a sixth-round shortstop draft pick out of Stony Brook?
"I don't think so," he said.
Herman Demmink III has been helping Nathan train for six years in Knoxville, Tennessee, Nathan's offseason home.
"Nobody shows up," Demmink said. "He's there. Complains the whole time, but he's there."
Nathan works out five days a week with minor league players in their 20s. This winter, his focus is on increasing his mobility and getting a leaner physique.
Last season, Nathan had a career-high seven blown saves and a 4.81 ERA, his second highest since becoming a reliever in 2003. Demmink said that seems to motivate Nathan.
"I can tell this upcoming year is not going to be the same as the last," Demmink said. "I think that's probably driven him more."
Among the other things motivating Nathan this year is the hope of another shot at a World Series victory with the Tigers.
"I don't know what that feels like," he said. "So is that motivation enough? That I haven't been there and that's what I'm playing this game for? Absolutely."
Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.