Jul 19, 2012, 2:56 PM EDT
The Nationals activated reliever Drew Storen off the disabled list and designated outfielder Rick Ankiel for assignment before today’s series finale against the Mets, moves that leave the club at least temporarily with an eight-man bullpen and four-man bench.
Storen, out since spring training with a bone spur in his right elbow that required surgery, will be available today to make his season debut and could be manager Davey Johnson’s best option to close after Tyler Clippatd struggled each of the last two nights.
The right-hander made six appearances on a minor-league rehab assignment with Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg, but it was his most recent appearance Tuesday (a 1-2-3 inning featuring two strikeouts) that convinced club officials he was ready to come off the DL.
The Nationals plan to ease Storen back into a late-inning role and won’t hand him back the closer’s job he held last season when he saved 43 games. But with Clippard making back-to-back appearances Tuesday and Wednesday nights — and giving up three home runs between the two games — Johnson may need to summon someone else to pitch the ninth inning of today’s game if the Nationals hold a late lead.
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