Mar 23, 2012, 2:41 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — An MRI taken of Drew Storen’s elbow revealed no ligament or tendon damage, only inflammation of the joint, and the right-hander expects to resume a throwing program and not miss significant time.
“It’s just rest for a couple more days, and then get it going and be good to go,” he said this morning inside the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium.
Storen has pitched in only two games this spring, none since March 7 after experiencing soreness in his upper arm and then battling strep throat. He was still feeling soreness earlier this week when he tried to throw again, so the Nationals shut him down and had him undergo an MRI yesterday.
That test, though, revealed no damage to the ulnar collateral ligament or any tendons, only inflammation of the elbow joint. Though Storen was never actually worried he might be seriously injured, the diagnosis did ease his mind.
“I knew from talking to other guys that have had elbow stuff, it wasn’t the same,” he said. “But it’s always in the back of your head. Your arm is never going to be exactly normal with how much force you use to throw. I wasn’t too concerned, but it was a matter of covering the bases and that way we know for sure going into it instead of guessing around.”
Once cleared to resume throwing, Storen will still need to build up his arm strength and make several game appearances before Opening Day.
“He should be fine to open the season,” manager Davey Johnson said.
Even if that doesn’t happen, Storen won’t be upset as long as he’s healthy for the long haul. He wouldn’t have felt that way last year, both because of his uncertain status as the team’s closer and the club’s unlikelihood of contending for a postseason berth.
“Obviously last year would be a different story,” he said. “But the fact I have the job, and the fact we expect to be playing in the playoffs, what’s happening at the end of the year is more important than right now. …
“You can’t really cut corners, especially with this. You don’t want to cut a corner now and have it come back to bite you in the end when it really matters. We have the bullpen depth, if I do have to miss a little bit at the beginning, they’ll cover me and we’ll be fine.”
Meanwhile, first baseman Adam LaRoche is scheduled to get several at-bats in a minor-league game today, though he won’t run the bases. LaRoche (out with a bone bruise in his left foot) hopes to be back in the Nationals’ lineup within a few days.
“The last couple days have felt really good,” he said.
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