Storen heads to Florida as rehab winds down

Storen heads to Florida as rehab winds down

Storen heads to Florida as rehab winds down
BALTIMORE -- Nearing a return from April elbow surgery, Drew Storen will head to the Nationals' Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., this week to throw live batting practice, and he'll likely rejoin the team at the end of the week for the Braves series.

Storen was packing his bags in the clubhouse prior to Sunday's series finale against the Orioles. After recording 43 saves as the team's closer last year, Storen has been on the disabled list for the duration of the season after April 11 surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Meanwhile, his best friend on the team, Tyler Clippard, has seized control of the closer's job by going 12-for-12 in save opportunities after taking over for Henry Rodriguez in late May.

After Clippard saved Saturday night's 3-1 win over the Orioles with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, manager Davey Johnson said Clippard will hold on to the closer's role.

"Right now, he's my closer and I can't see me going to somebody else," Johnson said. "[Someone else would] have to show me up here probably in a setup role before they'd have the opportunity to close."

Storen, who finished tied for sixth in the Majors last year in saves, accepted Johnson's decision.

"That's fine, [Johnson's] supporting the guy that's gotten this team to where it's at," Storen said before leaving on Sunday. "Tyler's been that guy, he's been that guy for the three years he's been here. He's supporting him, but at the same time, I know when I come back, I'm going to need to get my feet wet."

Storen is skipping the Nats' four-game series with the Rockies that begins on Monday to face live batters in Viera. Johnson has also said the next step for Storen would be throwing simulated games on the mound, which Storen believes he'll do on Friday.

"When you get into the live BP and the sim games, there's usually not a huge difference," Storen said. "For a reliever, it doesn't matter too much. I'm picking it up all around, it's just a matter of getting the last 10 percent. I feel great, I'm happy with where I'm at."

Though the competition with his closest friend on the team could present an awkward situation, Storen is taking a business-first approach as he wraps up his rehab.

"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, ask each other how we feel about it. It is what it is. That's part of the business. We're all here for the same reason, so it doesn't really matter [as long as] we're winning at the end of the year. Nobody's going to be upset about anything."