Manager Davey Johnson assumed he would give Drew Storen a day off Monday, the day after Storen recorded his first save of the season. But then he brought Storen in to face one batter, which turned into a 16-pitch outing.
Johnson assumed Tuesday, again, that Storen would not pitch. But Storen came to him prior to the game and told him he felt fine and wanted to pitch. When the game churned into extra innings, Johnson went against his first instinct and again and called on Storen. He recorded two outs with eight pitches and eventually earned the win.
Storen has pitched three straight days, by far his biggest test since he returned in mid-July from elbow surgery. It was a challenge Storen wanted, in order to continue to build his arm strength and prepare for the stretch run.
“For me, it’s about being able to do it,” Storen said. “I want to be able to throw four or five days in a row by the time the season is over. Even if I go out there and I don’t have my best stuff, I want to feel and pitch my way through it.”
Storen has returned mostly to his old routine. When he first came back, he stopped his long toss program, but he has since resumed it. He prefers throwing a lot to keep his arm in shape, and lately he has been doing more and more.
“I’m getting it back to where it was,” Storen said. “I still have to listen to my body.”
Storen, who saved 43 games last season, has pitched with a different kind of arsenal since he returned. Last year, his sinker “faded,” he said. This year, it is “heavier,” with sharper downward action. He has not thrown as hard, but the pitch, when he’s thrown it in the zone, has been just as effective. Storen has also used his changeup more often.
“That’s really what I wanted,” Storen said. “That’s the thing about getting a new elbow. You get that feel. I’m not really a feel guy. It forced me to do that. That may change as the season goes on. If not, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on how to pitch.”
Storen feels like he is in April of his own personal seasons. Storen sees better stuff now than then when he compares his pitches now to last April.
“It’s not where I’m normally at,” Storen said. “But the fact that it’s still early is exciting.”