Embattled closer Henry Rodriguez could have the night off again tonight, Manager Davey Johnson said, depending on the situation. Rodriguez has felt some tightness in his right forearm recently, a person familiar with the situation said, but the Nationals do not view it as anything more than typical soreness.
Johnson is still sticking by him as the Nationals’ closer, even after Rodriguez walked five batters and allowed a walk-off grand slam in his previous two outings. With his 100-mph fastball and electric offspeed pitches, Johnson still thinks Rodriguez is the best choice.
The closer decision will become easier once Drew Storen returns. Storen played light catch today, his second throwing session since undergoing surgery in April to remove bone chips. Storen, as he did Monday, threw two sets of 50 light tosses, 100 throws in total.
Storen is still aiming for a return around the all-star break in early July, his throwing today a small step on a long road back.
“It’s like driving a Ferrari 5 miles an hour, as brutal as that would be,” Storen said. “I haven’t been throwing. And I want to be throwing. And I want to be throwing in the game. So you’re going to want to push it, but it’s going to end up doing more damage than good if you do that. These things take time, unfortunately. It’s just kind of how it is. I’ve talked to Brad [Lidge]. I’ve talked to a lot of the guys. And they just said, ‘Pump your brakes. Take it down a notch. Just kind of cruise, and you’ll be all right.’ ”
Storen, without realizing it, had become accustomed to throwing with the bone chip in his elbow. As he has started throwing again, the motion has felt “like wearing a shoe without socks,” he said. After throwing Monday, Storen did not feel sore Tuesday, which surprised him.
“It just feels weird because it’s so weak and I haven’t been throwing,” Storen said. “It feels different. Not bad. It’s just weird, because I haven’t been throwing and so my arm is getting back into shape. I don’t know if I’ve ever taken this much time off from throwing, period.”