Craig Heist, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - The Washington Nationals received some disturbing news on Monday before opening up a three game series with the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Closer Drew Storen will visit renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews tomorrow after feeling what manager Davey Johnson described as "tenderness" in his right elbow yesterday after throwing a simulated game in Florida.
Storen appeared in just two games in spring training before sidelined with what turned out to be elbow inflammation. He did go back to Washington to get checked out and get an MRI which showed no structural damage and the club felt rest was the best form of treatment.
Storen started the season on the 15-day disabled list but he did throw a bullpen session before the Nats exhibition finale against the Red Sox on April 3 at Nationals Park and said everything appeared to be on schedule.
"That was pretty close to max effort," Storen said at the time. "It feels good and no pain. Now it's just a matter of starting the rehab program to see how much I'm going to throw and how much I'm going to do."
Now the entire situation has become much more troublesome for the Nationals. Johnson told reporters in New York before the game, "He threw the ball pretty good and warmed up pretty good and at the end of the day he felt a little tenderness in his elbow, so we're going to send to Andrews and see if we can see what's causing that."
Storen saved 43 games last season for the Nationals going 6-2 with an ERA of 2.75 but whenever you hear the name Dr. Andrews, it's never a good sign for any Major League pitcher.
"Anytime you have discomfort and we've been kind of resting him and he's been playing catch, he's had a couple of mounds and had no problem. But throwing to hitters, he might have extended himself a little bit," said Johnson. "Hopefully, it's nothing serious but it doesn't sound good to me."
As the Nationals got the bad news on Storen, the one positive they can take from the situation is they are much better equipped to handle a loss of this magnitude than in years past.
The acquisition of Brad Lidge along with Henry Rodriguez throwing the ball well since the beginning of the spring, gives Johnson and nice one-two punch in picking a closer. Johnson was going to alternate between the two until Storen got back. He may still use that strategy but first, the Nationals have to find out the severity of Storen's injury.
"We have one of the best bullpens in the National League and with addition of Brad Lidge, we have even more depth," Johnson said. "Anytime you lose someone the stature of Drew Storen who in his first year out, basically in four months, saved 43 games, that's a big concern of mine."
Hopefully, it won't be much of one.
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