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.
March 5, 2010; 7:13 AM ET
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