The Washington Times - June 22, 2012, 07:03PM

BALTIMORE — As far as big steps go for Drew Storen in his rehab from April 11 surgery to remove a bone chip in his right elbow, he took one on Friday. For the first time since he shut things down in early April, Storen faced hitters.

The right-hander threw about 20 pitches in a live batting practice session to Rick Ankiel and Jhonatan Solano at Nationals Park before the team boarded the buses to head to Camden Yards for tonight’s game against the Orioles.

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Storen estimated his throwing at “95 percent,” though manager Davey Johnson said it was more like 85. But either way, in the brief session Storen threw exclusively fastballs, was pleased with the sink and movement on them and came through it feeling good about where he was at in his recovery.

“I’m happy with where I’m at,” Storen said. “It’s another step forward.”

Storen will throw live batting practice again on Monday, this one in Florida as the Nationals head on the road to Denver. The next step after that will likely be a simulated game and then rehab appearances.

“I thought he threw the ball well,” Johnson said. “All the reports I got, and I talked to him afterward, he felt good. I’d say he cut it loose maybe 80 to 85 percent. That’s pretty good first time out seeing hitters with no adrenaline rush no nothing. He didn’t have any difficulty or discomfort.”

Storen said the only questionable moment came on his first pitch, which was to Ankiel, and was way outside and high. 

“Then I was all good,” he said. “It was all down after that. Once you get past the first one, it was nice. It’s still weird with like an L screen in front of you, but it was good.”

– Mark DeRosa continued his rehab in Single-A Potomac on Friday night, batting third and playing first base after playing five innings at third on Thursday.

DeRosa, who has been working his way back from a left oblique strain and has also been dealing with the recent death of his father, Jack, will likely only need two or three more rehab games, Johnson said. 

“He just needs to get back into the flow of things,” Johnson said. “He’s been out six weeks or more. With his experience and know how, I don’t look at it to take him more than two or three more games.”

– Henry Rodriguez made his second rehab appearance for Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday night, throwing one inning and walking two. Johnson did not indicate exactly how many more he’d need before the Nationals felt they’d be ready to activate him.

His first outing, a spotless inning with one strikeout, was better than his second. 

“He didn’t throw any balls erratically,” Johnson said of his second outing. “He missed the strike zone a little but pitched the ball well. 96 to 100 mph. Walked a couple but still got them out.”

The Nationals have been working with Rodriguez to maintain his calm on the mound and not rush his delivery, which can lead to his electric stuff going wild.

“He can get rushed a little bit,” Johnson said. “By and large, he’s been very consistent. He’s going to be fine. two, three more outings he’ll be fine.”