The Washington Times - May 11, 2011, 07:28PM

ATLANTA — Earlier today, I wrote about how Drew Storen is progressing in his role as the Nationals closer. Of course, as I pointed out then, no one has officially named Storen the team’s closer but with his last eight appearances coming exclusively in the ninth inning, it’s tough not to make the connection.

Manager Jim Riggleman offered his thoughts on the topic this afternoon:


“I want it to become permanent,” Riggleman said. “But we’re in the infancy of Drew Storen’s career here and we have to react a little bit to what we see. When we see as good as he’s been throwing and the results he’s been getting, it’s an easy reaction just to give him the ball in the ninth but we’re not going to jump to conclusions and take anything for granted but I certainly anticipate he’s going to get big outs for us in the ninth and finish games.

“The outs you get in the seventh and eighth are extremely important and we’ve got to have guys who can do that… If like last night he gets the ball with a lead, that’s a beauitful thing but it doesn’t do any good to have that great quality there if you can’t get to it.”

Storen is currently working a 17-inning scoreless streak and has a .046 ERA this season to go along with his eight saves.

– When the Nationals broke camp from spring training six weeks ago, they did so with the assumption that they’d be running out a lineup with Rick Ankiel in center field and the theoretical Grapefruit League MVP Michael Morse in left.

But with Ankiel on the disabled list with a sprained right wrist, along with a .221 batting average and .302 on-base percentage as the team’s No. 2 hitter, and Michael Morse also scuffling, Laynce Nix made his eighth consecutive start Wednesday night, in left field alongside Roger Bernadina in center. 

That’s a combination the Nationals may be using a lot more in the coming days and weeks – even when Ankiel and Morse, who had been nursing a sore right knee for much of last week, return to complete health. Ankiel is eligible to come off the DL May 19.

“I’m just trying to put the best lineup I can out there,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

The full story on Morse, Nix, Bernadina and Ankiel can be found here.