Nats reliever Mattheus hopes to contribute

Nats reliever Mattheus hopes to contribute

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Mattheus officially rejoined the Nationals on Friday morning as the allotted 26th man for their doubleheader against the Mets. He used his previously broken right hand to exchange handshakes with teammates and said that he couldn't be any more excited to be back.

"It's amazing," Mattheus said before the doubleheader. "It was a long time off. It's tough to sit back and watch the games from that perspective, and it's just great to know that I can go out there and contribute today."

After punching his locker in May and missing 58 games, Mattheus returned to the mound at Nationals Park in Friday's matinee. He walked two and allowed three earned runs while recording four outs.

While added as the 26th man for the doubleheader, Mattheus will stay with the club after the Nationals optioned struggling reliever Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse.

"I just don't know what it was," he said after the Nationals' 11-0 loss. "I didn't feel too pumped up. I did a pretty good job of settling myself down. It could be mechanical. I got a little short on a couple sinkers, bounced them in the dirt. Then I started feeling for stuff. I made some good pitches, then I made some not-so-good pitches. We'll move forward from there."

Mattheus had a cumulative 2.25 ERA in six rehab appearances, including stops at three of the organization's four Minor League affiliates. He said that he hasn't had any soreness in his hand throughout the rehab process and is throwing all of his pitches with regular velocity and control.

Mattheus wasn't particularly strong in his first appearance in two months, but he'll have more opportunities to prove himself moving forward.

"It's awesome," he said of rejoining the team. "I just wish we could have won the ballgame and I could have performed a little better."

Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.