UPDATED, 12:07 p.m.
Manager Davey Johnson confirmed closer Drew Storenwill begin the season on the disabled list, giving Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez dual ownership of the ninth inning for at least the Nationals’ first handful of games. With the April 5 opening day bearing down, Johnson said Storen could return in less than two weeks, perhaps just seven or eight games.
“We’re going to cautious on that,” Johnson said. “I know his arm is in pretty good shape right now. But if it’s a slow rehab, hopefully, being cautious, maybe mid-April. Maybe I’m being overly hopeful.”
Original post: Drew Storen felt no pain in his inflamed right elbow after playing catch yesterday for the first time in a week, an encouraging sign for the fitness of his arm that still leaves his status for opening day in question.
Storen, who has pitched in two games all spring, seems likely to begin the season on the disabled list. But his throwing session yesterday provided promise that, if Storen does begin the year on the sideline, it will be a short stay. Storen had been feeling soreness in his biceps and triceps, which necessitated a trip to Washington for an arthrogram last week. The test showed no structural damage, and now Storen can throw with pain.
“It’s gone,” Storen said this morning. “It was just a matter of, my arm kind of felt tired. It’s been on vacation the past couple days. My arm felt really good. I was happy, but I didn’t know how I’d feel this morning. I feel great. I can’t ask for much more than that.”
Storen threw from 90 feet yesterday. Today, he will play catch again, this time stretching out to 120 feet. If all goes well, the Nationals plan to have Storen throw off a mound later this week.
“That’s all I’m worried about right now,” Storen said. “That’s the weird thing about injuries. I’m such a plan-ahead person. I want to know. But you’ve got to take it a day at time.”
With opening day coming next Thursday in Chicago, that leaves one question: In a week, can Storen go from playing catch to the Wrigley Field mound? Storen could not make a prediction, but he sounded comfortable proceeding with caution and leaving the ninth inning at the season’s outset to Brad Lidge or Henry Rodriguez.
“I don’t know,” Storen said. “I’ve never dealt with this before. Like I’ve said before, we have plenty capable guys. When it comes down to it, there’s no point in cutting a corner. If it comes back and hits you, it’s going to hit you hard. Whatever is right in front of me is what I’ve got to focus on.”
Storen is not preoccupied with breaking with the Nationals, focused instead on putting his arm in the best position to endure through the season.
“That’s the main thing I have to keep telling myself,” Storen said. “I want to be facing hitters right now. Just throw bullpens at night, two a day. You’ve got to see the big picture, tell yourself, ‘Okay, let’s do it the right way.’ We’ll see. I feel pain-free. It’s all good.”
Meanwhile, Michael Morse walked down the corridor from the Nationals’ clubhouse this morning with a glove on his left hand, bouncing a ball off the wall. He was headed out to the field to throw for the first time in two weeks, having been shut down following a platelet-rich plasma injection in his strained right lat.
“Starting all over again,” Morse said, smiling wide.
The Nationals gave themselves an extra option today in the likely event Morse does not begin the year with them. Xavier Nady, signed 10 days ago to a minor league deal, will play in his first major league spring training game today, starting at first base against the Mets.
Here is the rest of the Nationals’ lineup:
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2. Danny Espinosa, 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Jayson Werth, RF
5. Wilson Ramos, C
6. Jason Michaels, LF
7. Xavier Nady, 1B
8. Brett Carroll, CF
9. Jordan Zimmermann, SP