Right-handed reliever Drew Storen has been hit by the flu bug, and is not available for the doubleheader today against the Mets, according to Nationals manager Davey Johnson.
Johnson said Storen is being "sequestered in the back" of the clubhouse. Johnson said Storen's ailment appeared similar to the flu-like symptoms suffered by first baseman Adam LaRoche that forced him to miss two games early in the current homestand.
Johnson joked that he didn't think Storen and LaRoche hung out, even though their lockers are on the same side of the clubhouse, albeit on opposite ends. Johnson said Storen would have to make a miraculous recovery to be available today.
That places added importance of the return of right-hander Ryan Mattheus, who has been activated from the disabled list for today's day/night doubleheader. Johnson said Mattheus would likely pitch in both games if needed. Mattheus has been out since May 19 with a broken hand.
"I feel like I can contribute now," said Mattheus. "Especially given the nature of the injury, it was kind of tough to deal with. The struggles of the team, we are not playing the way we want to yet. So it is good that I can have a hand in this now. It is a very exciting day."
Mattheus said he felt strong and his broken hand is completely healthy after six rehab assignments and a 2.25 ERA.
"The hand doesn't play an issue in any of my stuff," Mattheus said. "The slider, the split-finger, fastball, it is all there. I haven't made any major changes, just building up the arm strength after the long layoff. The velocity has been there with no added soreness. I feel like it will all be back."
What will be interesting to see is if Mattheus is very good, will the Nationals make a move after the doubleheader tonight to keep him here and move someone else? The roster must be paired down to 25 following today's two games, so a decision will have to be made quickly on Mattheus.
Update: Well, Storen is apparently well enough to pitch after all. He's on in the ninth inning in relief of Mattheus. Storen had been sitting in the bullpen, far away from the other relivers, earlier in the game. As for Mattheus, he threw 42 pitches in 1 1/3 innings, so it's doubtful he'll work in the second game.