Last night, Davey Johnson announced that when Drew Storen is activated after his rehab stint, he'll likely work out of a set-up role with Tyler Clippard remaining the Nationals' closer.
Today, Storen reacted to that news.
"It's fine. He's supporting the guys that have gotten this team where it's at," Storen said. "Tyler's been that guy, and he's been that guy for the two to three years that he's been here. So he's supporting him. At the same time, I know when I come back, I'm going to need to get my feet wet. And that'll be good for the acclimation of it.
"But in the end, I have all the confidence in the world I can come back and close games. Since Day One, since I had surgery, I told myself I was going to come back better. And I believe that wholeheartedly. If people doubt it, hopefully I'll prove them wrong. I know I will."
Clippard has gone 12-of-12 in save opportunities since being named the Nats' closer, and he's been absolutely filthy in that time, allowing just one hit over 13 1/3 innings. Storen saved 43 games for the Nationals last season, but he was sidelined early in spring training because of elbow issues and needed surgery to remove bone chips in that throwing elbow. He's expected back after the All-Star break.
Storen and Clippard are close friends. They're also roommates. But Storen doesn't feel that the friendship between the two relievers will make the situation any easier. And he says that because he doesn't think it's an uneasy situation to begin with.
"I don't think it's awkward at all, really," Storen said. "It's business. It doesn't really matter. Our friendship has nothing to do with baseball. It's not like we go home and talk about it and ask each other how we feel about things. It is what it is, you know? It's part of the business, and we're all here for the same reason. If we're winning at the end of the year, no one's going to be upset about anything."
Once he returns to the Nationals, Storen isn't sure if it will take some time for him to get back into peak form. He's never been through an injury like this before, so he isn't quite sure what to expect.
But he does expect to be back pitching at a high level this season, and has said multiple times he hopes to be at an even higher level than he was at before the surgery.
"I know how baseball is. It's what have you done for me lately," Storen said. "The fact of the matter is, I haven't done anything this year. That's part of the motivation to get back and contribute to this team and help this team out a lot this year. I've really been a part of helping turn this thing around. So for me to get back and be a strong contributor down in the bullpen, that's what I want to do. All that other stuff, all this stuff, doesn't matter."
Storen will now head back down to Viera, Fla., to throw another live bullpen session and pack up his stuff. He'll then meet up with the Nats in Atlanta and will ramp up his rehab from there.
"I'm picking it up all around," Storen said. "It's just a matter of getting that last 10 percent. I feel great. Really happy with where I'm at."