The Washington Times - April 27, 2012, 04:29PM

Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen is still in the preliminary stages of his recovery from April 11 surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow but Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Thursday that the closer could begin soft tossing by the end of April or the start of May.

“They’re still doing the extension exercises and they’re going to go fairly slow with him on that,” Johnson said.

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Johnson was expecting to get a better idea of Storen’s schedule on Friday when he met with Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz in Los Angeles. Johnson wasn’t entirely sure if the Nationals had put a firm timetable on Storen’s return just yet but he did give a loose frame of reference by noting that “he’s probably going to be at least another month if everything goes perfect.”

Storen dealt with some biceps/triceps soreness early in spring training and the Nationals shut him down for a bit. Strep throat set his return to throwing back a few days but when he did, the pain was still present. So the Nationals sent Storen for an MRI arthrogram in Washington and that showed that while the elbow was structurally sound, there was a bone chip present.

They rested him again and Storen began to ramp back up without much issue but when he faced hitters for the first time in his rehab process, the pain returned. Surgery to remove the chip quickly followed.

The Nationals have never said just how long they expect Storen to be out, allowing only that the closer would be back with enough time to make a meaningful contribution to the Nationals’ season.

In his place, the Nationals have been using both Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez but Lidge has faltered some in the role, blowing two of the four save chances he’s had. Johnson maintains he won’t stop turning to Lidge in save situations but Rodriguez will continue to get opportunities as well, as he’s mostly excelled in the role thus far.