WASHINGTON -- Drew Storen threw 30 pitches off a mound three times last week, and he expects to do the same this week while increasing his pitch count. He is throwing only at a 75-percent effort level as he attempts to build arm strength after April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
The 24-year-old closer remains on pace for a return around the All-Star break.
"I haven't had any pain and it feels like it's getting stronger every day, so there's legitimate improvement," Storen said. "The last bullpen I threw [Friday] was probably the best I felt. I'm feeling really good, my command is good and my mechanics are still there. I'm very happy with where I'm at."
Doctors targeted an All-Star break return for Storen as soon as he had surgery, but Storen said he is actually progressing ahead of schedule.
He expects to work his pitch count up to 50-60 pitches at a lower effort level, even though he never threw more than 35 pitches in a game in two years in Washington. He plays catch or long tosses every day between bullpen sessions.
"It's kind of one those things where you have to be able to jog before you sprint," Storen said. "I have to be able to get that arm strength up, and that's what you do with 50-percent bullpens for 50 pitches ... before you start giving max effort."