'A sense of relief' for Nats closer Drew Storen

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ST. LOUIS — Pain has followed Drew Storen’s season, thanks to April surgery to remove a bone chip from the closer’s right elbow. The surgery sidelined Storen until July and made his save Sunday, punctuated with a shout as he struck out Matt Holliday swinging to end the game, even sweeter.

In two minutes, the always-enthusiastic Storen repeatedly described the afternoon as “awesome” and “unbelievable.”

“It makes all those brutal, boring mornings in Viera, Fla, in April watching these guys do what they did worth it,” Storen said. “It’s fun to watch but it’s also tough to watch. … I said, ‘I’m going to do this right, I’m going to come back and I want to contribute and be a part of this.”

After saving 43 games in 2011, Storen regained his closing job last month from buddy Tyler Clippard. On Sunday, Storen could hardly wait to start throwing in the bullpen. He’s not much for sitting around in a tight, tense game.

“It was a sense of relief,” said Storen, who saved four games during the regular season. “Once I threw the first pitch in the bullpen, I was like, ‘thank you.’”

The excitement continued to the mound, a situation Storen imagined himself pitching as a child in Indiana but, to be honest, never believed would actually happen. Storen blocked those thoughts from his mind. Adrenaline surged.

“It’s just a matter of harnessing that,” Storen said. “That was my whole thing, to not try to do too much. … We all have that fire down there. We all have that mindset.”

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