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Apr 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Drew Storen (22) throws in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Cardinals 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: Nationals News 4/21

Start off your week with some great Washington Nationals articles from around the web:

Storen picking up where he left off last season

(Andrew Simon, MLB.com)

WASHINGTON — When Drew Storen returned from a midseason demotion to Triple-A last year, he was a much different pitcher. And in 2014, that change has held.

The Nationals right-hander entered Sunday with eight relief appearances. He’d thrown seven innings, holding the opposition to one run on two hits, with no walks, nine strikeouts and an .091 batting average.

When Storen was sent down late last July, he had a 5.95 ERA and .295 opponents’ average in 42 1/3 innings. In 26 1/3 innings since, he has a 1.37 ERA and a .174 average, with six walks and 24 strikeouts. Read full article here.

Danny Espinosa Proving He Belongs At 2B For Washington Nationals

(Brian Skinnell, Rant Sports)

I admit that I haven’t been Danny Espinosa‘s biggest fan lately, but it’s time recognize that the Washington Nationals second baseman is a totally different player this season. After struggling mightily in 2012 and 2013, he’s proving that he belongs at second base full-time in 2014.

Espinosa’s career has been one filled with many twists and turns. He made his debut in September of 2010 and looked to be a promising option for the Nationals at second for years to come. After showing some improvement between 2011 and 2012, he then took a huge step back in 2013.

After batting just .158 in 44 MLB games, he was optioned to triple-A following a stint on the DL to repair his wrist. In 75 games and 283 at-bats in Syracuse, things didn’t get much better as he bat .216 with 101 strikeouts. Certainly not helping his cause, Anthony Rendon was making a name for himself at the major league level with a breakout season. If it weren’t for Espinosa’s defensive ability, his days on a major league diamond were all but over. Read full article here.

Bryce Harper needed a reality check, and Matt Williams gave it to him with benching

(Thomas Boswell, Washington Post)

The free scorecard handed to fans this weekend at Nationals Park has a picture of Bryce Harper on the cover, running full speed, hat off and hair standing straight up. The headline:“Nothing But Hustle.”

Inside is one of those tough-guy, watch-out-world posed photos of Harper that you see in team promotions, but also in TV ads where he’s presented as some iconic established brand. The caption reads, “To be one of the most gifted athletes on the planet, he only knows one gear: Full Throttle.”

Yes, Harper was benched for lack of hustle on Saturday. Washington NationalsManager Matt Williams cited the outfielder’s “inability to run 90 feet.” When Harper’s spot in the batting order came around in the ninth inning of a close game, it was Kevin Frandsen grounding out while Harper watched from the dugout. “That’s a shame for his teammates,” said Williams, making it clear that Harper had forced the move and failed the team. Read full article here.

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