The Washington Nationals made the decision late Friday night to option right-hander Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse. When viewed in the big picture, the move marked a stunning turn of events considering Storen, a first-round pick, saved 43 games for the Nationals just two seasons ago and was rounding into elite form down the stretch in 2012.
Storen has not been that same pitcher for much of this season, and his now-complex history in the major leagues goes back to that fateful night at Nationals Park last October, when he stood on the mound and couldn’t get the elusive final out to send his team to the National League Championship Series.
While Storen was unavailable for comment after the Nationals’ 2-1 win over the Mets, Tyler Clippard did have some strong comments about the decision to option his teammate, and friend, to the minor leagues. Clippard, who is in the midst of a tremendous season, is the one person who was affected perhaps equally as much by the Nationals’ decision to sign Rafael Soriano this offseason.
He believes it had a large effect on the results that Storen has put forth this season.
Here are his comments in full.
“It’s tough. I mean, he’s done a lot this year as far as, he’s worked hard, tried to get out of this funk. It kind of snowballed on him there to get to this point. It’s just unfortunate.
“I think there’s a lot of things that led to this that could’ve been prevented. You know, you basically send a guy a message this offseason for having one bad game that he’s not the guy for the job. He’s only human. I mean, it’s going to get to anybody.
“He hasn’t had to deal with a lot of adversity. He came up and had unbelievable stuff. He had success right away. Came in last year, coming off of a surgery, and pitched huge games for us in a 98 win season. Picked me up when I was struggling in September. Picked our team up in the playoffs. Had one bad game. Eight months later, you get to a point where he’s struggling and you turn the page on him, you send him down. It’s not necessarily turning the page on him because I think he needs to go down and regroup, get out of this environment, take a deep breath and regather himself. So I think it’s going to help him.
“I just think it’s been handled very poorly. And it could’ve gone either way. I know the same message was sent to me. And I’ve been through adversity over my career, you know? So I know how to handle it. You know, this is a tough day. He’s going to be part of this organization for a long time, I hope because he’s good. And we need him. But if he goes somewhere else, he’s going to be great for them.
“It’s one of those things that I think was handled very poorly by the organization but at the same time, that’s the decision that was made and we have to move forward as a team. We have great guys in this locker room that are going to get it done. We’re going to make a playoff push at the end of the season, I have no doubt about that. But this is a tough day.”
On why this decision is obviously weighing on him: “Obviously me and Drew are close. We’re good friends. But at the end of the day, you’d like to think that there’s a human element involved in this whole thing and I think there was on both sides of it.
“I can understand, you know, after the devastation that happened last year, maybe trying to make a change and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to bring in somebody that we think can get it done in that big situation.’ It’s just the wrong message to send, I think. But at the end of the day, that’s what happened and that’s where we’re at.
“It’s up to me, it’s up to Drew, it’s up to everyone in this locker room to pick ourselves up and move forward. That’s what we have to do, we have no choice. That’s what this game’s all about. So, this is part of it. There’s definitely human element involved in both sides of it and I can understand that.”