Right-hander Drew Storen has had a busy offseason while training in Indianapolis. He’s already thrown off a mound a few times and he’s added about 15 lbs. as a cushion for the expected warmer weather he’ll encounter once the Nationals convene in Viera, Fla., for spring training.
Amid all the hard work, he’s again been the subject of trade rumors. At NatsFest, Storen made it clear he wants to remain a National and hopes none of the incessant chatter about deals comes to fruition.
“You just kind of brush it off,” he said. “I find out about that stuff from you guys. ... The amount of action my Zillow app would be getting if I was truly traded to all these places would be kind of remarkable. It’s kind of funny. You just hang with it, it’s part of the business.”
Several years ago, Storen was bound for Minnesota at midseason in a deal for center fielder Denard Span, who wound up a National anyway. Then there were Winter Meetings rumblings that he was part of a package the Nationals were offering the Orioles for center fielder Adam Jones. Just last week, he was being made available to other teams to clear a spot for the Nats’ pursuit of closer Grant Balfour, who opted to sign as a free agent with Tampa Bay.
“You don’t take it personally. ... It’s flattering another team would want you, too,” he said. “You have to look at it from all angles and it’s a great time, obviously. I don’t want to go anywhere.”
Storen is determined to return to the form that saw him save 43 games in 2011, and put a disappointing 2013 - when he sported a 5.95 ERA when he was sent to Triple-A Syracuse to work out some mechanical issues - behind him.
In retrospect, he realizes the demotion had a positive effect.
“It wasn’t ideal, obviously, but you can’t argue with the results,” he said.
Over the final six weeks of the season, Storen looked more confident and composed. In August, he seemed to be finding himself. By September, he had an 0.79 ERA to show for 12 games and had shaved his season ERA down to 4.52.
“I just got back to throwing the way I used to throw - that’s being athletic, dynamic and attacking guys,” he said. “I think that was my mindset, not trying to do to much. I think going down there helped me figure out who I was. I don’t need to go out there and throw a perfect pitch every time, I need to attack guys.”
While he was scuffling, Storen believes he got too far away from the pitcher he was when he was successful.
“Sometimes, instead of focusing on a weakness, you forget your strengths at some points,” he said. “I think for me, I got too mechanical. I was never somebody that was a real mechanical guy. I just went out and threw and attacked guys.”