Warm greeting at NatsFest meant a lot to Storen

Drew Storen's elbow feels fine, and his psyche shows no scars from a meltdown in Game 5 of the National League Division Series that the right-hander would probably prefer to permanently file away, never to be remembered.

A London vacation after the premature end to his season helped Storen unwind and begin the process of moving on past extremely personal disappointment.

"It's harder because you don't have that game the next day to fix it," he explained. "That's why you look at Game 6 as my workout this offseason. That's part of the excitement about this year, being able to correct that situation."

The hurt lingered, but not just because it cost the Nationals a chance to advance.

"Any game that I blow in April hurts just as much," he said. "It's the same coping mechanism I use. I take pride in having a short memory."

That's an occupational hazard for a closer. But would Nationals fans approach the loss in the same way? Have they moved past it?

If Storen was concerned about what kind of reaction he'd get from the Nationals fans after not being able to nail down a Game 5 victory when he was twice a strike away from sending the Nats to the National League Championship Series, any worries evaporated when he made his first appearance on a NatsFest panel Saturday afternoon at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

"It was cool today, because I did a Q&A and got a standing ovation from the fans," Storen said. "That's pretty incredible, the amount of support that I've gotten. You really see that's what makes D.C. special. ... The amount of support today has been incredible."

With the addition of Rafael Soriano to an already stacked bullpen, Storen's role may change. But general manager Mike Rizzo made sure to seek Storen out Saturday and reassure him that he's still an integral component to the Nats' success.

"I'm still an important piece to the puzzle here - pretty much everything that he's communicated to you guys," he said. "He said, pretty simply, that (Soriano) makes the team better and I agree with him 100 percent."

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