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NATIONALS: Drew Storen Overwhelmed By Successful Return
WASHINGTON – Drew Storen retired all three batters he faced in the ninth inning of the Washington Nationals’ 9-5 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday – his season debut after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his right shoulder in April.
Storen threw nine pitches, five for strikes, and alternated between a two-seamer and a sinker. He topped out at 93 mph on the fastball, retiring David Wright and Kirk Nieuwenhuis on groundouts and getting Jason Bay to fly out to center field.
“It was pretty emotional for me, to be honest with you,” Storen said. “It capped it off with having a great ovation from the fans, and you know, it really means a lot. It really kind of makes those three or four months or whatnot really feel shorter. You know, I was under control out there and I felt like I had good command, so that was all I was looking for.”
Manager Davey Johnson said he was looking for a low-pressure situation in which to allow Storen to make his debut, and with the Nationals trailing 9-2 in the eighth, Johnson had Storen begin warming up.
“I thought he was a little rusty, but he threw strikes and they certainly weren’t centering on him,” Johnson said. “I was real pleased he got a chance and went one, two, three. I was figuring he was going to throw a bunch of pitches first time out, but that was good.”
Entering with Wright at the plate was a challenge Storen appreciated. Wright, 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs at that point, hit a grounder to third baseman Mark DeRosa on the first pitch he saw – a 93 mph sinker.
Johnson has maintained that Tyler Clippard will remain the Nationals’ closer, even as he’s struggled through his previous two outings. Clippard is 15-for-16 in save opportunities since assuming the role in mid-May – a role Storen held last year en route to racking up 43 saves.
Though the stadium was perhaps a third full when the bullpen gates opened, Storen appreciated the response from the crowd. A select few gave the right-hander a standing ovation.
“It’s hard to explain, but it is honestly one of the best feelings in the world,” Storen said. “To have, like I said, the fans appreciate me being back out there, I went down there and kind of picked up the ball and just kind of took a deep breath. It just feels really good. It was nice.”
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