Things continue to progress positively for injured Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen as he continues rehab from surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow in March. In fact, things have progressed so well that the team actually has a reachable target date in mind for the right-hander’s return – July 13th in Miami, the opener to the season’s second half.
Prior to Friday’s game at Atlanta Storen threw batting practice to live batters. Both Chad Tracy and Jhonatan Solano were making fairly consistent contact off of Storen, causing the closer to question how his stuff wasn’t missing any bats until learning after the fact that bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo was telling the batters what was coming.
The team has a two inning simulated game scheduled for Storen on Monday. Assuming all goes well he’ll begin a rehab assignment with one of the organization’s minor league affiliates beginning towards the end of the week.
While many teams across the Major Leagues have already started their search for bullpen help (including the Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Phillies, and others) with the July trade deadline just a month away, the Nationals are in a fortunate position. Getting Storen back in mid-July is nearly as good as making a deadline acquisition, without the cost of losing any players to acquire him (not counting whomever loses their roster spot to make room for Storen, but that’s another discussion for another day).