As much as Drew Storen tried to block out the trade speculation swirling around him before Sunday’s 4 p.m. deadline, he knew his first trip through the July rumor mill would be an exhausting one. Storen has a Twitter account with more than 17,000 followers, so even if he’d wanted to shut himself off from it, there was a good chance the rumors about him leaving town in a trade deadline deal would find him.
And there was plenty of reason for the chatter, too; general manager Mike Rizzo said Storen’s name came up in just about every phone call the Nationals took, and it was widely known around the game this week that the Twins wanted Storen as the centerpiece of a package in return for center fielder Denard Span.
So Storen stewed in the bullpen during Sunday’s game against the Mets, his wishes to stay with the Nationals well-known, and hoped he’d get a phone call to warm up, not to pack up. While he’s been sifting through the rumors, though, he’s found other things that he didn’t expect - fans telling him on Twitter they hoped he’d stay in Washington, a woman holding up a sign on Sunday begging the Nationals not to trade him.
“In all honesty, before this week, I didn’t know what kind of fan support there was,” Storen said. “You get nice ovations and stuff when you’re coming in, but the amount of support I’ve gotten from Twitter and (at the game) today, it’s been unbelievable. It really makes me happy, that’s for sure.”
His day didn’t end exactly how he’d hoped - Storen gave up a homer to Scott Hairston in the ninth inning after the trade deadline passed, and got the win instead of a save. But he left the park knowing he got what he wanted.
Storen has converted 26 of 30 save opportunities this season, and has an 0.993 WHIP in 52 1/3 innings. But he’s endeared himself to fans for another reason; he signed the day after he was drafted in 2009, saying he was hoping to land with the Nationals and help them turn things around. It was rare for fans to hear a player say he wanted to be in Washington, and Storen quickly built a following. The son of longtime sportscaster Mark Patrick, Storen is at ease with the media, and hasn’t been shy about giving fans a look into his life.
“I’m just kind of trying to be me. I didn’t really think about it,” Storen said. “I like to think (they like it), but I just kind of go with it, and if people like it, I guess that’s a good thing.”
In the end, the Nationals kept their second-year closer, believing they wouldn’t get enough back in return for him to part with him this early in his career.
“It’d have to be a special deal to make that work,” Rizzo said, “because he’s a special performer at a premium position. It just didn’t match up to our liking, and there was no deal made.”
And as grateful as fans might have been, there was no one more relieved than Storen.
“It’s probably the weirdest day of my career,” he said. “As much as you have to shut that stuff out, it’s still on your mind. But once I saw the clock hit 4:00, and the phone rang and called me down (to warm up), I was pretty excited.”