Storen’s mind seems to move at a greater speed than even his fastball

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Storen’s instinct is to try and throw the best breaking ball in history, as he puts it, instead of a clean, quality pitch. The 18th hole is the image Austin used. Like being on the final hole at Duran Golf Club next to Space Coast Stadium, the Nationals‘ spring home, and trying to drive the ball 600 yards. The ball usually sputters to the ladies’ tees or out of bounds.

Pumping the brakes

During a stretch last season when the pitches sputtered, Storen retreated to art. That’s one antidote for failure on the mound, aiding an uncanny ability to forget bad outings. Words are rarely in short supply for Storen, but he doesn’t like to talk out pitching struggles. Instead, he put Dave Matthews on his headphones. Then Storen spent hours redrawing a photo of himself high-fiving ex-Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez after a save.

Teammates sometimes spy him sketching on the team’s charter, but Storen keeps art private. “You never know if people are being nice or if it sucks,” he said. He painted an abstract version of Michael Barrett slugging A. J. Pierzynski in 2006 and a pop art interpretation of Batman’s head.

“Instead of sitting there and getting really frustrated with yourself … you’re thinking about things you naturally sort out,” Storen said. “I like mindless work. I like art.”

Back in Melbourne, the blank look on Storen’s face is gone. The inferno is over. “Domination,” he tweeted. All that remains are embers of trying not to pass out and the clock seeming to move backwards and your reflection gaping at you from the room’s mirrors like a stranger. A drop of sweat never appeared on the instructor.

The sessions pump the brakes in Storen’s life. Sprawled in a chair near his condo’s pool, blissfully cool wind gusts past. The sun is down. Storen looks like he could fall asleep. He’s finally still.

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