Prior to today, Drew Storen already had a full bullpen session under his belt as he works back from elbow inflammation.
But this afternoon, working off the bullpen mound at Nationals Park, Storen cleared his next hurdle in his rehab - he threw with some conviction, trusting his arm and pounding the catcher's mitt with force.
"I let it go a little bit today, probably for the first time in a while, and didn't feel bad at all," Storen said. "So I'm happy with that."
Storen, who said he's still pain-free, will throw another bullpen session on Thursday, and assuming all goes well, he'll start throwing in games shortly thereafter. The question is where Storen will go when he's ready to start facing hitters; he could be sent back down to Viera to throw at extended spring training, or could go on a rehab assignment with one of the Nationals' affiliates.
Regardless, the key is that Storen feels good and said he agrees with the tentative timetable set out by manager Davey Johnson, which has Storen possibly able to return around mid-April.
"Yeah, that sounds about right," Storen said. "The big thing for me is to not cut any corners on the way back, because I don't want to cut a corner and then not be able to come back at full strength. When I come back, I want to be able to throw three days in a row. I want to be able to do everything and not have any limitations when I get back."
That "not cutting any corners" stuff is all well and good, but Storen admitted that these next couple days will be tough on him. On Thursday, he'll watch his teammates take the field at Wrigley Field, and won't be out there with them enjoying the pageantry of opening day.
"It's brutal, to be honest with you," Storen said. "I want to be out there, but I've got to look at the big picture of things. I'd much rather be out there in October pitching then than pitching opening day."