Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen had never been on an operating table. “Didn’t even break an arm as a kid,” he said. So perhaps it was a good thing he didn’t have much time to ponder the first surgical procedure he’d ever undergone.
Storen arrived in D.C. on Wednesday to visit with the Nationals team doctors as they awaited word from Dr. James Andrews on his second opinion of Storen’s test results. When they got them, they decided it was time to operate on Storen’s right elbow and remove a bone chip that had been causing him discomfort. Thirty minutes of surgery later, it was over.
“The good news is we found it and it shouldn’t be a lingering problem,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson
Storen was in the Nationals’ clubhouse on Thursday in good spirits. His right arm in a sling, his chances of pitching for the team remain anywhere from two to four months away. And he knows the rehab process in front of him is going to test his already slim patience.
“It’s going to be brutal,” he said. “But at the same time, that drive is kind of good. The big thing for me, I’ve learned all this year, is big picture-type stuff.
“I want to be back this year and be me. That’s kind of my main thing. (Rehab) is something little you’ve got to do every day. That doesn’t really go with my personality of getting after it, max effort. But you know what? it’s all about growing up a little bit. So that’s going to be a good thing for me.”
The Nationals found no other damage inside Storen’s elbow when they went in Wednesday. “The elbow looked pristine,” Rizzo said, and Storen was encouraged by that report.
“I was pretty confident that it wasnt going to be anything more than (a bone chip), but there’s always that possibility when they go in there they see something,” Storen said. “So when I woke up and they said that it was quick, it was easy, it was what we expected, obviously that’s a big relief. Now I know what the problem was and I had it fixed.”
The Nationals saw the bone chip on Storen’s MRI done on March 22 but felt that with rest and medication, he would likely be able to work through it. Once he ramped up to face hitters for the first time, he realized that would be an impossibilty. He had hoped to put off surgery until the end of the season, but knew his discomfort was too great.
“I wasnt myself when I was throwing the other day,” Storen said. “And I could tell. I really wanted to make sure that when I come back, I’m me, and not trying to just throw through it.
In his place, the Nationals will continue to go with a combination of veteran Brad Lidge and flamethrower Henry Rodriguez. For Storen, watching his team go on without him will be one of the toughest parts of rehab but knowing he’s turning it over to the deepest relief corps the Nationals have ever had was some consolation.
“The depth that we have in the bullpen makes things a lot easier,” Storen said. “You see the quality of work those guys are doing, and at the same time, it makes me excited to get back and join that party. But I know they’re going to take care of it for me while I’m gone.”