How will Storen be used upon his return?

Wondering how Drew Storen will be used once he’s back from his lengthy rehab from elbow surgery?

If so, this entry’s for you.

Manager Davey Johnson said again today that Tyler Clippard will remain his closer once Storen is back with the Nationals, which the team expects to be just after the All-Star break. Johnson feels Clippard is closing as well as anyone in the league right now, and the numbers back him up on that.

So with Clippard in the ninth-inning role and Sean Burnett proving to be so effective in the eighth inning, where does Storen fit in?

“He’ll start out for me, see how he’s throwing for a few appearances and then, obviously, if I like the way he’s throwing and I feel like he’s able to bounce back, I wouldn’t have any qualms about sliding him in occasionally to take a little heat off Clip,” Johnson said.

Storen is making his first rehab appearance tonight with Single-A Potomac. He’ll get the start for the P-Nats and will work one inning before being pulled.

The Nats plan on giving Storen four rehab outings, one every other day. That sets him up to return to the majors for the Nationals’ first game out of the break, which comes July 13.

Even once he returns to the majors, however, Storen will likely be a bit rusty. That’s why Johnson will be hesitant to use him in crucial situations, at least right away.

“It’ll be a little different with him,” Johnson said. “I’ll have some conversations with him once he gets here about when I’ll probably use him and the frequency of that. I’ll break him in, although a lot of our games have been real close. But I think mental preparation is really important to helping performance. When the guys kind of gear up mentally, knowing it’s probably going to be them, I think it’s easier to do your job, rather than, ‘Oh, it’s me?’ That kind of deal. And that’s no different with him.

“It was easy for him in the past. He knew he was going to close, at least while I was here. But Clippard’s going to be closing when (Storen) gets here. We’ll have to see how he’s throwing, how he’s feeling, how he bounces back, that kind of thing. I won’t rush him, I’ll give him a little more time to get loose.”

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