In the span of just a couple seconds, everything changed for Drew Storen.
He was no longer Drew Storen, major league closer. He was “Tinkerbell.”
“This is the worst nickname in history,” Storen said with a wry smile.
The nickname didn’t come from a teammate or an opponent trying to get a rise out of Storen. The 24-year-old can thank his manager for the constant stream of jokes that might be heading his way over the course of the next few months.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked after a game last weekend what he thought of Storen’s performance in his spring training debut.
“I’m going to start calling him Tinkerbell,” Johnson responded, referring to Storen’s tendency to made adjustments to his wind-up and delivery. “He comes in with all kinds of different little moves.”
Boom. Just like that, the name caught on.
Storen’s teammates started laughing about the new moniker. (His good friend and locker room neighbor Tyler Clippard says he thinks the nickname is “awesomeness.”) Deadspin posted a blog discussing the entire story. And now, to Storen’s dismay, he’s starting to learn that the whole thing isn’t going away anytime soon.
“It’s terrible,” Storen good-naturedly said. “Who would want to be named Tinkerbell and play baseball? Let’s be serious. I was kinda hoping it would be something where it’d just be the quote and then it’d go away, but unfortunately not.”
Storen admits that he tinkers with his mechanics more than the average hurler. (“I do, but I’m anything but Tinkerbell,” he says.) It’s part of the pitching process for him. He’ll stick with a particular style of delivery for a few weeks, and then once it stops working, he’ll make an adjustment.
But while he understands the nickname’s derivation, he isn’t exactly endorsing it.
“I don’t think Davey realizes just how much harassment I’m going to get on the mound, thanks to that nickname,” Storen said. “Especially now that Deadspin picked it up. I’m really glad they did that.”
Entering camp this year, Storen knows he’s slotted in as the Nats’ closer, which allows him to get ready for the season without the pressure of needing to put up solid numbers in spring. He can go out and worry about getting his arm ready for opening day without needing to focus on trying to win a job.
“It’s nice to be able to just go out and get work in and prep for the season,” Storen said. “That’s what I’m locked in to doing right now. It’s a little bit different, but it’s nice to be able to go out and work on some different things and tinker a little bit, I guess.
And it all comes back to Tinkerbell.
Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.
Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko