Clippard still Nats closer, but Storen impresses

Clippard still Nats closer, but Storen impresses

Clippard still Nats closer, but Storen impresses
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he considers reliever Drew Storen a closer even though the ninth inning has gone to Tyler Clippard this season. Storen, who lost his job to Clippard because of an elbow injury, has tossed scoreless ball in 18 of his 20 appearances.

"It's hard to get off 'Clip.' He is almost perfect," Johnson said. "But I don't have to abuse 'Clip' at this point. I like where Storen has been at the last two or three times out. So I think he is all the way back obviously."

Storen, who missed the first half of the 2012 season because of bone chips in his right elbow, had arguably his best outing on Wednesday night when he was able to get out of an intense jam against the Marlins during an 8-4 victory. In the eighth inning, there were runners on second and third with no outs when Storen replaced Sean Burnett.

Carlos Lee flied out to center field, while Giancarlo Stanton struck out before Storen induced a weak grounder to third from Justin Ruggiano. Johnson thought Storen won the game by having a solid eighth inning.

"I think the biggest thing for me was I didn't get overamped, I didn't overdo it," Storen said. "That was kind of the biggest thing that I looked at that was the biggest positive. It's easy to get into that situation sometimes where you got fired up, especially because coming off an injury, I keep building up and increasing the workload, I keep increasing the situations. It's a step forward for me, and I didn't feel like I did too much.

"I wouldn't say [the outing on Wednesday] was different. I would say that I did a good job at not overextending. It would be easy if it was maybe earlier right when I came back. I probably would've tried to do a little too much.

"For me to kind of just stay the course on that outing is kind of the most important thing. I wasn't going out and trying to throw 100 [mph]. I was just trying to pitch to the situation. Now with my stuff back, I'm starting to pitch to the situation."