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Riding the Strasburg wave

Jun 13, 2010, 11:20 PM EDT


Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
All eyes were on Stephen Strasburg once again.

CLEVELAND — Drew Storen has been with Stephen Strasburg every step of the way. From the Arizona Fall League to spring training to Harrisburg to Syracuse to the big leagues, Storen has been Strasburg's teammate, sidekick and friend.

And today, the rookie reliever played a new role in Strasburg's life: The guy who bailed him out of a tight jam.

Make no mistake about it, Strasburg's performance against the Indians would have looked a lot less impressive had Storen not deftly pitched his way out of the sixth inning, stranding the bases loaded, preserving the Nationals' lead and saving the game for his good friend.

"I wouldn't say I saved it," Storen insisted. "But it was good to come into that tight spot. I enjoy that tight spot, and I was just glad to get out of it."

These two first-round draft picks — selected just nine spots from each other last summer — will always be linked, and that's a good thing. Strasburg gets all the attention and hype, but he's got very little personality and shies away from the spotlight. Storen, meanwhile, hasn't gotten nearly as much press but is perfectly comfortable in front of cameras and reporters.

Together, they're bringing plenty of positive news to a Nationals organization that used to serve as baseball's punching bag but now is among the sport's best stories.

In the last five days, baseball fans around the country have gotten to know not only Strasburg, but Storen, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Ian Desmond. And they've all taken advantage of the attention and put together impressive performances at the rightRead more »

  1. K.D. - Jun 14, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Great article Mark, fun game to watch. Storen had his bit of the well deserved limelight. I think Strasburg has a personality by the way, just a low key, self-deprecating one.

  2. Doc - Jun 14, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    Neat ardticle MarkMeister!SS is correct to avoid the hoopla as much as he can. There is very little of it that will contribute to him being a better pitcher. You can see him focused, even when he is on the bench. He's got the physical part down, and he continues to work on the mental. Its the latter that will make him a really great pitcher.

  3. Cwj - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    Very good article Mark. I agree with K.D. and Doc on the personality issue. Everyone has a personality :) I would add that maybe he's just acting like any rookie would in his place. Humbleness is a good trait I think

  4. Andrew - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    I think even Mike Morse and Bernadina who have played well in their spots have received some nods of approval.Congrats to the guys who have stepped up.Did you see the way people were snatching up Strasburg shirts at the stadium. Supposedly they sold out of all Medium and Large shirts!!!

  5. Andrew - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    Loved the Colt McCoy story BTW

  6. Arlington Big Fish - Jun 14, 2010 at 3:50 AM

    One thing about Strasburg I don't like is a habit he seems to have picked up very quickly: I saw a shot a couple of days ago of him sitting in the dugout with a huge wad of tobacco under his lip. I've been a baseball fan for more years than I care to admit, & I have NEVER understood baseball's attraction to this filthy & dangerous affectation.

  7. Grandstander - Jun 14, 2010 at 4:23 AM

    Mark, I was wondering, typically rookies face some hazing during their debut in the minors. Obviously, the Nats are a much more laid back club than the Yanks or Red Sox or a team like that, but has he faced any hazing or practical jokes? Obviously there was the shaving cream to the face, but vets have gotten that treatment as well.I'd be curious as to the locker room dynamic of having a rookie who's levels more popular than the teams veteran starters.

  8. Andrew - Jun 14, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Grandstander – The Nats have done some good group Rookie hazing such as making players wear a pink backpack for a day or dress in "drag" which would be a little more embarassing.I remember Marco Estrada in 2007 had to wear the pink backpack in Philly and head to the bullpen wearing it. The crowd went crazy.

  9. Andrew - Jun 14, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Scratch that. I think Marco Estrada had to walk the walk in 2008.

  10. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    The pink backpack (I believe it's a Hello Kitty model) is the standard rookie hazing tool for the pitching staff. I remember watching Ross Detwiler wear it on his nightly walks out to the bullpen before the game during his cup of coffee in 2007. Storen mentioned having to carry it during an interview a few weeks back. Seeing as how Strasburg is a rookie, you would think he would also be subject to these rookie hijinks. Maybe now that the hoopla of his first start is over they'll make him wear it when he goes out to the bullpen to warm up for his start this Friday.

  11. Kevin Trainor - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Linked at Beltway Baseball.

  12. Mark Zuckerman - Jun 14, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Regarding the rookie hazing … they do typically make rookie pitchers wear a kiddie backpack when walking out to the bullpen, though that may only apply to relievers. Can't say I've noticed anything for Strasburg (or Atilano for that matter).The one prank all rookies participate in comes in late September when they have to dress up in ridiculous costumes (usually women's wear) after a getaway game and wear the outfit throughout the trip until they arrive at the team hotel in another city.

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