VIERA, Fla. - We must be getting close to the conclusion of spring training's first act; the Nationals' workouts are getting shorter, and there's actually some competition in them.
The big story in today's workout was Drew Storen facing Jayson Werth for the first time since Werth hit a walk-off grand slam against him last September in Philadelphia. When Werth dug in for live batting practice, Storen quickly buzzed him with a fastball.
"Now we're even," Werth shot back at him.
"Can't have you getting too comfortable," Storen said.
And as they left the field, Werth said, "I don't know if I would have respected you if you didn't throw that first one in on me."
Werth's homer was one of the more notable moments of a rough apprenticeship in the closer's role for Storen last year. He had replayed the at-bat plenty of times in his head this winter, and talked to Werth about it a couple times this spring.
Storen had started the at-bat with three fastballs, then threw a slider to fall behind 3-1. He got Werth to foul off his next pitch, a fastball, and then Werth fouled off a slider. Storen threw another fastball, which Werth fouled off, but then instead of going back to his slider, he fired a fastball, high and inside, and Werth hit it out.
"He asked me (this spring), 'Why'd you throw fastball there?' " Storen said. "It was good closure. It was good to hear it from him. Our scouting reports were different on what he liked to do with a full count, but he told me if I had thrown a slider there, I would have had him."
The 23-year-old closer also got some feedback from Nyjer Morgan after pitching to him. At this point in his development, Storen craves insight from hitters.
"I thought (Werth) was sitting on my slider pretty well. He was seeing it pretty well," Storen said. "But when he's saying, 'No, that's a pretty good slider,' I'm thinking, 'OK.' I have a lot of confidence in my slider, but for a guy like that to say it, it kind of adds onto it."