Storen, Wang both nearing return to bullpen

Storen, Wang both nearing return to bullpen

Storen, Wang both nearing return to bullpen
WASHINGTON -- Drew Storen will make one more rehab appearance with Class A Potomac before joining the Nationals for the first time this season.

Storen, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning in a rehab outing with Double-A Harrisburg, hasn't reported any discomfort since returning from April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. But given those poor results -- Storen allowed the four runs on three hits and one walk -- as well as some issues with his command, the Nationals wanted him to make one more rehab outing before joining the bullpen.

"The reports I'm getting from all the pitching coaches and the manager is that his arm strength is fine," manager Davey Johnson said. "His command might be off because he's maybe trying to overthrow. His release points are a little inconsistent."

Nevertheless, Johnson did say Storen is "real close" to a return. Nats relievers sported a 3.07 ERA entering Tuesday, sixth-best in the Majors. In four earlier rehab assignments with Potomac, Storen allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits in five innings pitched.

Storen has been looking to build arm strength in his rehab assignments, and Johnson said that the right-hander could be focusing too much on his velocity.

"Part of the message when you're coming back from something like that is arm strength," Johnson said. "Storen has always had good command. His breaking ball has been a little inconsistent. Sometimes, it can be inconsistent with the arm strength not there, and sometimes it can just be inconsistent because you're trying to overthrow."

Chien-Ming Wang will also join Storen for another rehab outing in Potomac. Wang, after returning home to Taiwan for the All-Star break, pitched four innings in a start for Harrisburg on Friday night, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits.

The Nationals were pleased with the right-hander's outing, and Wang, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 3 with a right hip strain, could be close to rejoining the bullpen.

"I think I'm full go," Wang said through his interpreter before Tuesday's game. "I feel pretty good. I'm still working on my mechanics, obviously."

In 23 2/3 innings this season, Wang is 2-3 with a 7.61 ERA.