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Drew Storen's fast-track mind and morning links

The first time Drew Storen climbed a mound with the Nationals this spring training, pitching coach Steve McCatty watched Storen work furiously. Pitch, catch the ball, pitch. It was the Day 1 of pitchers and catchers, and this was supposed to be a way to ease into the season.

"He had to tell me to slow down," Storen said. " 'In 10 minutes, you're going to throw 60 pitches. You can't throw 60 pitches. You need to pump the breaks brakes a little bit.' "

That says a lot about the way Storen approaches pitching and everything else. He works fast; he thinks fast; he's impatient. Last summer, Storen signed so quickly not just because he wanted to put himself in the big leagues this year, but because he wanted to make it there at the end of last season. (He got that idea from Chad Cordero, the full story of which is contained within that above link.)

Now, Storen may be forced to wait. Jim Riggleman said yesterday the Nationals are going to take a "similar" approach to Stephen Strasburg, and it seems a foregone conclusion Strasburg will start in the minors. Storen was tremendous yesterday in his debut, retiring the side in order and throwing eight of his nine pitches for strikes. That was only one inning, and it came against the spring fodder of Chris Shelton, Chris Johnson, and Jason Castro (combined major-league games last year: 20). If he continues to throw like that, though, he may put some pressure on Nationals to keep him.

"It's still going to be, do we feel like it's going to be better for him to go down there?" Riggleman said. "Or, is he just so dominating we can't pass up the opportunity to start him out here with us? That time that he pitched last year, though, helps his cause. That's for sure."

"I understand there's a big picture of things," Storen said. "If they think I need more time to develop, that's fine. Last year, when I didn't get the call, I said, 'My goal is not to be there for a month, so that's fine.' I put myself in positon for the rest of my career. That's kind of the way I look at it."

One thing for sure: Storen prefers activity to stagnancy. My favorite story about that --fair warning, this will not go well with your morning meal; skip down a paragraph if you're squeamish -- In high school, Storen had an ingrown toenail, and he woke up one night and it hurt like hell. He went to the bathroom and grabbed a tube of Orajel. "I figured, if it could numb your gums ..." he said. He splattered the stuff all over his toe, took a pair of scissors, and started cutting.

"We lived with five other guys," said Nationals minor league pitcher Jack McGeary, Storen's roommate at Stanford and at spring training this year. "It would be the end of a long day, and we're all winding down, falling asleep on the couch. He's jumping around, keeping us all awake, shouting, singing, whatever. That would be a typical Storen thing."

Here's one more leftover that didn't make the birdcage liner. According to Drew's father, Mark, the Giants (sixth pick), Braves (seventh), and Reds (eighth) all met with Storen and discussed him becoming a starter. Storen started when he very first arrived at Stanford -- he was initially going to play third base, too -- and he still has five pitches and a wind-up to show for it.

Those teams would have started Storen at the lower-rungs of the minors so he could build up his arm and re-learn how to start.

"He basically told the teams that talked to him that he was interested in signing and starting," Mark Storen said. "He just wanted to get going. He said if you want me, that's what I'll do. He was intent on letting them know that he was anxious."

So, when the Nationals chose him at 10, he was thrilled -- all along, the Nationals saw him as a closer and let him that's how he was going to get to the majors fastest. That suited Storen.

Yesterday, Storen was a bright spot in a largely dismal first day of games. Today, Miguel Batista will start against the Braves, and you can listen to the game. Today is also a good day to put yesterday in perspective. The split-squad games allowed a lot of minor leagues the chance to play. With the Yankees, Nick Johnson is already in midseason form: He hurt his back tying his because he wore the wrong shoe.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 5, 2010; 7:13 AM ET
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Next: Today's lineup


Thanks for the morning readings, and for keeping the "didn't make the paper" blog tradition alive (i.e., not merely reposting the newspaper story here). I like the "birdcage liner" designation, too. I wonder whether McCatty might have been referring to "brakes" rather than "breaks," though.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

How many closers do you think there are who are listed as switch hitters? Everything about Storen is a little interesting and amusing.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 5, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

After reading: feel better, Nick. Sounds like he caught his spike in the turf rather than got hurt tying his shoe, though. (And that's the last proofreading elf item from me today, I promise. ;-))

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I can't root against Nick, even if he is on the Yankees. However, I am not surprised in the least, and would expect him to be out at lesat a week with this.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 5, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Kilgore writes...You need to pump the breaks a little bit.' "

Is that the way you spell it? I thought it is pump the brakes.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 5, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"Pump the breaks" could be pump up, i.e., inflate, make bigger, the interim between pitches--the breaks.
In the alternative, he could have been instructing him to stay with curve balls and sliders, e.g., "Keep pumping those breaking balls."


Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 5, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

"Johnson usually wears turf shoes when the Yankees take batting practice on the green mats that are sometimes placed around the plate, but this time he wore his spikes. One of them got caught in the green, turf material and now Johnson is likely to sit out Friday as well."
Cutting the head off a live rooster ain't gonna do it here. I think he needs a live ostrich--maybe a roc.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 5, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

With the Yankees, Nick Johnson is already in midseason form: He hurt his back tying his shoe.....
The more things change the more they stay the same.

Posted by: twinbrook | March 5, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I would think one of these.

(Disclaimer: That's a joke, son. No actual birds were harmed in the making of this comment.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Kilgore writes...You need to pump the breaks a little bit.' "

Is that the way you spell it? I thought it is pump the brakes.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 5, 2010 8:49 AM


Adam, I am not the grammar police, but glad to see you don't have a blown up ego where you wouldn't address it!

You need to pump the -breaks- brakes a little bit.' "

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 5, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Them's the brakes....

I would join a chorus to pressure the Nats to bring up Storen and Strasburg, if I thought these were pieces they need to contend this year. I'm not convinced the Nats have solved bullpen problems, and Storen isn't enough. Even with Strasburg the Nats would still be one or two starters short of a real rotation. And, then there's the underwhelming lineup -- filled with guys that either can't field or can't hit (Zimmerman excepted, and maybe Morgan, too).

I can't wait 'til next year, though. If Zimmermann and Detwiler are in good shape, I'm sure the Nats can fill in the bullpen pieces to have one of the best staffs around. Maybe Flores will be healthy, or Norris will be ready. Ditto Marrero, Desmond, Maxwell, etc. So, Storen and Strasburg can wait. Days of wine and roses to come.

Posted by: fischy | March 5, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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