The Washington Nationals' second 1st Round pick from the 2009 Draft, Drew Storen, was introduced as the Nats' closer (though that's not written in stone) when he appeared on the Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show "Power Alley" with Kevin Kennedy and Jim Duquette. Asked if his goal was to be the man at the back of the Nats' bullpen in 2011, the 23-year-old former Stanford Cardinal closer who's back at college this fall (though he's home in Indiana now for the holiday), says that's definitely what he's aiming for next summer:
Drew Storen: "That's obviously my goal. I had an up and down year I feel like, and that's one thing about me, I'm never satisfied and I feel like I made a step in the right direction and made a good adjustment to a new level of competition, but I know there's a lot of work still to be done, and I've got the right support staff of veteran guys and good coaches, that hopefully I can be that guy for us this year and that's my goal and that's what I'm working every day right now to work towards.
Storen said the adjustment to the closer's role came gradually after he was called up to the majors in May following just 41 games and 53.2 IP in the Nationals' system over two seasons and after Matt Capps was traded at the July Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. "Starting from when I came up in May and towards the end of the season," Storen explained, "I just kind of moved further and further back in the game, and it's a whole 'nother ballgame when you're still in the ninth inning and it's a close game. They say baseball's a game of inches and it's really the case in the ninth inning. The hitters just kick it up another notch, I feel like. You throw a lot of good pitches that guys hit really well and I had to relearn and readjust to that ninth inning, and luckily I learned a lot from Capps and even Tyler Walker and some of the other veteran guys in the bullpen, you know, they taught me some of the little things, just don't worry about the situation and just battle each pitch and try to win each pitch and that's kind of what I tried to do."
Asked by the hosts if he'd had any contact with his fellow '09 1st Round pick Stephen Strasburg, who's currently recovering from Tommy John surgery in California, Storen said that he had spoken to his fellow Nats' pitcher, and in Storen's words, "his progress is going well." "I'm excited for him to kind of get back from it, cause I know how devastated he was," Storen said, "cause he had worked so hard to get back from that shoulder twinge that he had and he had made the right adjustments to get guys out and then all of a sudden everything just kind of got swept out under him."
The other big news of the winter for the Nats is their negotiations with the big middle-of-the-order bat Adam Dunn, but Storen says he's only "lightly" following it because in his words (echoing all fans' thoughts), "I don't know really what to believe." "The Dunner is a great teammate and a great hitter and obviously would be a good guy to have around for the next couple of years, so I'm hoping to see him back, but you know, obviously for him there can be different things that can happen."
Storen's already begun to prepare for the 2011 season, saying he just started throwing again this week. There will be some competition for the closer's role with his roommate Tyler Clippard, and Sean Burnett, (and Collin Balester?) but when the Nats drafted Storen with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 Draft, the D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said at the time that he was selected with the intention of making him the closer at some point in the future, whether or not the future is now will be determined this Spring.