MILWAUKEE — With pitching coach Steve McCatty resting in D.C. after a bout of atrial fibrillation last week, minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams has assumed the pitching coach duties this weekend in Milwaukee.
But before he arrived in Milwaukee, Williams was with Triple-A Syracuse in Louisville, where he was able to work briefly with Drew Storen.
“I spent two days with him before I got here,” Williams said. “I was really impressed with his mental outlook and how he was going about his business. He had a lot less strain on his face and stress. He took those three days off like he should and he came down and said, ‘I’m ready to work.’
“He wants to get better. He wants to get back to where he was a few years back. I was very pleased with what we accomplished in a short period of time.”
Storen made his debut in Triple-A on Friday night. He allowed two base hits, and committed a run-scoring throwing error on a sacrifice bunt. He got three straight outs after that, though the first — a ground ball — scored a run. He struck out the final two batters he faced.
Sunday, he’ll start for Syracuse and pitch two innings. “just to give him a different look,” Williams said. He’ll get Monday off, play catch on Tuesday and then be tossed into the rotation as a regular reliever for the Syracuse bullpen from there.
In the short amount of time that Williams spent with Storen, he came away pleased with what he saw, and he said his central message was that of patience.
“It’s going to take him some time,” Williams said. “He got himself into a rut where he wasn’t throwing the ball where he wanted to and not being able to throw the ball down in the zone. He knows that. That’s what he’s working on. From a mechanical standpoint, I don’t think he’s that far off. The pressure of trying to make a perfect pitch, he has a tendency to do that.
“He threw a 50-pitch sideline Wednesday. He threw the ball, for the most, part down in the zone. The ball was crisp. He felt good. He was relaxed. He looked good. I can’t give you any type of timeline, but one thing I did tell him is, he’s got to have patience. It’s going to take him a while to get back to where he was. Whether that’s two weeks or three weeks or whatever, we’ll see.”
When the Nationals optioned Storen to the minor leagues a week ago, they spoke with him about abandoning his stiff-hip delivery and returning to more of a windup. Williams said Storen has begun working on that as well.
“He wanted to do that,” Williams said. “I guess him and (Tyler Clippard) talked about it. He wanted to try it. He felt like it gave him more athleticism. He felt like it gave him more freedom with his arm. He threw several pitches out of the wind-up and looked pretty good. He got a little more rotation and turn out of the wind-up. He feels like he needs to put that in his delivery out of the stretch as well.”
– Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will be unavailable for the Nationals until at least next week. Ohlendorf was pulled after just 11 pitches on Wednesday when his velocity was 8-10 mph below normal. He said he was just not fully recovered from his 114-pitch start a week ago.
Ohlendorf said Friday he felt he might still have a little inflammation from the start and pitching on Wednesday probably compounded it. He does not believe he is injured, but just needs a few more days off. Davey Johnson said he would stay off Ohlendorf until early next week.