Every part of Drew Storen’s experience this season, having undergone surgery, recovered and returned to the majors, is new. Another example came today. Even though Storen faced only one batter last night and retired David Wright on two pitches, Johnson plans to make him unavailable tonight.
Storen and Manager Davey Johnson have discussed his usage and role, and they are on the same page. Johnson feels he hurt Storen by bringing him into the game Friday night after he had pitched Thursday, even if Storen threw only nine pitches Thursday and faced just two batters Friday.
“I’ll try to get him in a game tomorrow, try to do every other day as much as I can to get him back geared up, have the adrenaline throwing,” Johnson said. “I’m looking for him to be fairly quickly as the backup closer to [Tyler Clippard]. It’s all going to be on how he comes along.
“When I brought him back-to-back the second time out, I probably over-extended him then. I’m going to take him out slow and try to get him back. We have a great bullpen. It’s only going to get better when he’s right.”
Even in his limited action last night, Storen felt the best he has all year. In the seventh inning, with the Nationals ahead, 2-1, Storen retired Wright on a deep drive to center field. But “it’s not only about results,” he said. In the bullpen, Storen warmed up fast, which is how he prefers it. On the mound, he felt he had good “whip” with his arm.
“I wanted to get the juices flowing against a really good hitter, on the road, the game on the line,” Storen said. “It was just kind of everything. It was kind of feeling like me.”
Storen still feels like he has not returned to 100 percent, that he’s still effectively in his personal spring training, and that Johnson is handling him perfectly. There are certain things – the adrenaline of the majors, the feedback from facing elite hitters – that he could not have accomplished on a rehab assignment.
“You just got to put the icing on the cake,” Storen said. “That’s the way do it, is situations like that. It’s not a guy who hasn’t seen me for 70 months. He’s seen me a lot in the past. We’ve had great battles in the past. That’s what I need right now. It’s that whole adrenaline, all that stuff.”
For tonight, Storen will watch and wait for tomorrow. It will be different, but then his whole season has been that way.
“It’s all new still,” Storen said. “It’s like writing a paper in college. I’ve already written big papers. I know what to do. I know how to approach it. When you have to go re-do it, you can go about things a lot more effectively. You know a little more. It’s that natural progression. We started at the shallow end of the pool, and we’re working our way down to the deep end.”
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