TORONTO — When closer Drew Storen underwent surgery to remove a bone chip in his right elbow on April 11, he knew it would be a long, tedious road back to standing on the mound in the ninth inning for the Nationals.
Two months to the day since his surgery, though, Storen’s progress is getting more impactful and his return is getting closer. Storen threw off a mound for the second time on Monday, the first session coming Friday, and he remains on track to returning to the major leagues around the All-Star break, if not before.
“He was fine,” Johnson said of the second bullpen session. “No problems afterward.”
Storen, though, has a penchant for doing everything max-effort and with the effectiveness he’s so used to having. So it was no surprise to Johnson that Storen was a bit dissatisfied with the results.
“I think he was a little disappointed,” Johnson said. “He thought he’d feel a little better than he felt the second time out but I wasn’t expecting anything less. Every time he throws the ball he wants to throw it through the wall. But he had no problems after throwing. He’s right on track.”
The timetable for Storen’s return will become much more clear once he reaches the point of going on a rehab assignment but he looks to be closing in, at the very least, on the last month of rehab.
After some adventures in trying to fill his role for the time being, Tyler Clippard has been superb in the role going 8-for-8 in save opportunities since getting his first one at the end of May in Philadelphia.
– In other rehab news, right-hander Ryan Mattheus will throw in a second rehab game on Tuesday and Johnson said he expects him to throw at least an inning, if not more. Mattheus will have at least one more rehab appearance after Tuesday, too, before the Nationals re-evaluate where he’s at.
With the Nationals bullpen situation jumbled and seemingly always in a state of flux, Mattheus’ remaining contractual option could come into play when he’s ready to be activated.
“You don’t want to lose anybody,” Johnson said. “I think everybody here is valuable and the guys on the DL have been invaluable, too. the main thing is not to rush him. He’s been out quite a while and he’s only really had one inning in a game. Stretch him out a little bit and he may have one more time before we start addressing if he’s ready to come back.”