Drew Storen was a happy guy yesterday.
Not only did he finally have all his teammates back in the Nationals clubhouse after their West Coast road trip, but the Nats closer is getting close to beginning a throwing program, which he expects to kick off in the next week or two.
"I'm excited," Storen said. "I need that back in my life."
Storen has been grounded since undergoing surgery to remove a bone chip in his right elbow three weeks ago. He doesn't travel with the team on road trips, instead rehabbing at the Nats' facilities in D.C. and spending some of his free time watching TV in the Nats clubhouse with left fielder Michael Morse, who is rehabbing a strained lat muscle.
For now, Storen is taking part in drills designed to improve his shoulder strength - doing chest passes with a medicine ball off a trampoline and things of that nature. He says he has better range of motion in the elbow now than he did before the surgery, and actually is coming along quicker than he expected.
"The ball's rolling now," he said. "We're moving in the right direction."
The timetable on Storen's return is still the same; he expects to return around the All-Star break. The 24-year-old obviously hopes to rejoin the Nats prior to that, but won't be pushing things too hard.
"It's the old clichÃ© - you've got to go a day at a time, I guess," Storen said. "You try to make little strides, and if I end up coming back quicker, then that's great. If not, you've got to take your time. My big thing is just when I'm back, I'm back. I don't want to be back with restrictions, I don't want to be back and not feel like me. As much as I want to go throw right now, I've got to see the big picture."
As a small cluster of reporters talked with Storen yesterday, Bryce Harper went about trying to get his things settled in his locker about 15 feet away.
Players usually have a good feel for when a roster move is about to be made, or when their team might be ready to call a player up to improve an area of need. But Storen, like most of us, said he was shocked when he heard late last week that Harper was getting promoted from Triple-A Syracuse.
"I don't think anybody expected that, but I liked it," he said. "I saw that and was like, 'No way. That's awesome.' "
Making that type of move, Storen said, sends a message to the fans as well as the players that the Nats aren't building for the future or worrying about the business aspect of Harper's early promotion. Instead, they're making a push to win now.
"That's something that we talked about in spring training," Storen said. "It's not about money, it's not about any of that. It's about winning. That's the No. 1 priority. And I think that move kind of tells you is that we're going all in. I think it's pretty obvious that Bryce was ready. You see the way he's playing, and he's not scared one bit. And he goes up there with a lot of confidence which is what we expected.
"It's awesome to watch him play. When he ran max effort on the comebacker in the first AB (on Saturday), that's when you knew that was pretty fun to watch. It's just a whole-nother gear. Like running into the wall (to make a catch Sunday), it's just awesome. You can tell there's something different about him. You saw it in spring training, but the way that he goes out there and plays, everybody likes that. He gains a lot of respect for that and he's the type of guy that's literally going to run through a wall for you."