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Detroit — Joe Nathan knew the question was coming.

This week marks the first time the Tigers closer will get up-close and personal with fans since his infamous chin flick to the crowd this summer.

So, does he expect to hear about it when the Tigers travel the state this week on the Winter Caravan?

You bet.

"I'm sure," Nathan said, smiling. "If so, we'll talk about it.

"It's something that, I hope, we move past last year. I apologized I hope plenty of times. I think we've mended some relationships throughout the course of the second half."

Nathan, who turned 40 in November, is heading into the backend of a two-year, $20-million deal signed least offseason.

The deal excited Tigers fans at the time, given the success he's had in his career, including 2013. But be started slow in 2014, and fans' patience was quickly lost.

He remains the closer, though with proven closer Joakim Soria also on the roster, Nathan has to pitch well from Day 1 to keep the job.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tonypaul1984

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