When Matt Capps signed with the Nationals last December, Drew Storen immediately perceived the possibility of a rift. Storen, after all, had been drafted six months earlier as the team’s closer of the future, and Capps had signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Nationals, partially to occupy the job until Storen was ready.
But when the two met at NatsFest in January, that possibility turned into a non-issue.
“I was kind of like, ‘I wonder how this is going to be,’ but he really treated me so well from the beginning,” Storen said. “Instead of kind of pushing me away, he took me under his wing and really showed me the ropes.”
Capps took Storen out to eat throughout the spring in Viera, Fla., talking baseball with the rookie and sharing tips on adjusting to life in the majors. He helped Storen move into his condo in Florida - “just little things you don’t expect a guy of that caliber to do,” Storen said.
When Capps was traded to the Twins last night, Storen texted him to wish him luck, but to express gratitude as much as anything.
“He understood it all,” Storen said. “He was kind of the polar opposite of what you’d think in that situation. That’s why I really appreciated what he did.”
But this is still a business, and part of the reason Capps became expendable, after all, was because Storen has stepped so smoothly into the majors. He has a 2.64 ERA in 29 appearances this season, and 26 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. He won’t become the Nationals’ outright closer right away, sharing the job with a group of relievers that includes Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Joel Peralta.
Storen hopes to take the job over eventually, but said that can happen through “a natural process.”
“We’ve got enough arms down there right now that other guys can fill in with that role,” Storen said. “That’s one thing I’m going to work toward, is to be accountable late in the game.”