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Storen OK with setup role

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Storen OK with setup role

BALTIMORE -- Drew Storen believes he can close in the big leagues. He did, after all, save 43 games for the Nationals in his first full season in the majors. But if manager Davey Johnson believes the team is best served by keeping Tyler Clippard in the ninth-inning role moving forward, Storen is OK with that.

"It's fine," Storen said this morning. "He's supporting the guys who have gotten this team to where it's at. Tyler's been that guy. He's been that guy for the 2-3 years he's been here. He's supporting him."

Out since mid-March due to a bone spur in his right elbow that required surgery, Storen has nearly completed his rehab program. He headed back to the Nationals' spring training complex in Viera, Fla., today and will throw to live hitters there tomorrow. He'll then rejoin the Nationals in Atlanta on Friday and possibly pitch a simulated game.

Storen remains on target to come off the disabled list right after the All-Star break. He believes there could be some benefit to returning in a setup role.

"I know when I come back, I'm going to be good," he said. "But I'm going to need to get my feet wet and I think it will be good for the acclimation of it. In the end, I have all the confidence in the world I can close games. Since day one, since I had surgery, I told myself I was going to come back better. And I believe that wholeheartedly. If people doubt, hopefully I'll prove them wrong. I know I will."

Clippard has successfully converted all 12 save opportunities since ascending to the role last month. He's surrendered only one hit during that span, a level of dominance that prompted Johnson to say Saturday night the right-hander would remain his closer moving forward.

"I know how baseball is," Storen said. "It's what have you done for me lately? And the fact of the matter is, I haven't done anything this year. That's part of the motivation to get back. Because I want to contribute to this team. I felt like I really helped this team out last year, and I really want to be a part of turning this thing around. For me to get back and be a strong contributor in the bullpen, that's what I want to do."

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.