NEW YORK -- It was well known from the get-go that it wasn't going to be an easy road back for reliever Drew Storen, and both the pitcher and manager Davey Johnson are still figuring out how he fits best into the scheme of the Nats' bullpen.
Storen saved 43 games for the Nationals last season, but didn't make an appearance this year until July 19 after recovering from an elbow injury. Storen's role has been as a middle reliever or setup man since Tyler Clippard has gone from the setup role to the closer's role.
Storen entered Tuesday having made three appearances since he made his season debut last Thursday against the Mets, tossing one scoreless inning in that outing. He had a bit bumpier road in his second outing the next night against Atlanta -- two runs on one hit and a walk without retiring a batter -- before pitching one-third of an inning Monday in New York, retiring David Wright.
"I asked him, 'What would be best for you? How can I use you best to get you back to where you were last year?'" Johnson said of a conversation he had with Storen on Monday. "He said, 'A couple more outings.' So I'm just looking for short outings where he can get hot and come in."
Storen never threw back-to-back outings during his rehabilitation work, but pitched on consecutive nights in his first two appearances of the year for the big league club. Storen said he doesn't expect that to be an issue early on, though Johnson admitted Tuesday he may have overextended Storen in that instance.
"Try to get him in the game [Wednesday] and do every other day as much as I can to get him hot, geared up, have the adrenaline flowing," Johnson said of his immediate plans for the right-hander. "Then once he gets where I think he's ready to throw an inning and feel confident that his arm strength and everything is there and his command, then I'm looking for him to be fairly quick as the backup closer to Clip. It's all gonna be on how he comes along."