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Storen explains self-inflicted injury, his hope to bounce back

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Storen explains self-inflicted injury, his hope to bounce back

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With a four-week recovery timetable and just 17 games left on the Nationals' regular season schedule, the chances of Drew Storen playing again in 2015 are very slim. And to have that sudden end caused by a self-inflicted wound has made the last week or so even harder to swallow for the Nats reliever.

On Thursday, Storen explained what happened the night of Sept. 9 when he broke his right thumb following an outing against the Mets. He has been through some pretty tough moments during his MLB career, but this was among the very worst.

"I'm obviously disappointed. I wasn't really trying to do any harm," he said. "I just kind of shoved my locker and caught the metal on the side there. Obviously it was not in a good spot. It's frustrating. It's one of those things where I was in the moment as a competitor. I was frustrated with my outing, but I had no intention… I'm not the type of guy to punch a wall or do something like that. That's not what I was aiming for."

Storen felt discomfort in his right hand, but did not know something was seriously wrong until he played catch two days later in Miami. Throwing his slider, in particular, revealed enough pain to convince him to get it checked out. The Nationals took X-rays and discovered a small, non-displaced fracture.

Upon hearing his diagnosis, Storen approached manager Matt Williams to tell him he was sorry.

"I told him 'look, I apologize. I feel bad as a competitor. That wasn't my intention to do something to myself and put my health in jeopardy.' He understood," Storen said.

The injury came on the heels of two disastrous outings against the Mets. On Sept. 8 he allowed a bases-clearing double and walked in another runner as New York tied a game they would eventually win. Then, on Sept. 9 he served up a two-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes, as the Mets swept the Nationals and essentially locked up the NL East in the process.

Those two appearances capped off an unfortunate month for Storen. In Storen's first 43 games this season he held a 1.52 ERA (7 ER, 41.1 IP). In his last 15 games he gave up 14 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings pitched (9.22 ERA).

Now Storen will likely have to wait until 2016 to have an opportunity to bounce back. Opening Day is almost seven months away, a long time to process all that went wrong.

Storen, however, believes he can rebound just like he has from other low points in his career.

"You just keep plugging away. You learn that you can't change things that have happened. You gotta really look forward and make the most of whatever opportunity you have in front of you. It's just part of the game. It's going to test you. You're going to have your ups and your downs. It can beat you up a little bit. But as long as you make the most of it, things are going to work out in the end," he said.

Storen could rehab on his own, but has chosen to stay with the team for the remaining three weeks of the season. He has been with the Nationals his entire MLB career since getting selected by the franchise in the first round of the 2009 draft. He has played with many of his teammates for years, including Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, who are both free agents after this season.

"That's the reason why I'm here and why I want to support those guys. We've been through a lot," Storen said. "Those guys have been cornerstones of this organization. Who's to say what is going to happen, but that's why everyone is plugging away. That's part of what this group is all about. It's a bunch of great guys and great teammates. That's why I'm going to make sure I'm here to support them."

Storen's own future is unclear, as well. He has one more year on his contract and was supplanted as closer in July when the Nats dealt for Jonathan Papelbon.

Whatever happens this offseason, Storen believes the last month should not diminish what he has otherwise been able to accomplish as a major league pitcher.

"I feel like I bring a lot to the table. I've been here for a while. This last month and the struggles, that's not me. I've had some tough times, but I've also come through and dealt with frustrating times and adversity and gotten through it better. I look forward to it being the same this time," he said.

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.

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