Saturday, January 26, 2013
Storen, Clippard try to move on
When the Washington Nationals agreed to terms with one of the top prizes of the MLB offseason, signing closer Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal, it caught nearly everyone in the baseball world by surprise. It wasn’t rumored, the team already had a guy who saved 43 games in 2011 and another who saved 32 in 2012, it seemed to come out of nowhere.
Imagine being Drew Storen.
The young reliever the Nats picked 10th overall in 2009 to be the closer of the future all of a sudden had his job threatened, or perhaps even taken away, and how did he find out? By Twitter.
Storen saw the news online and immediately called his good friend and roommate, Tyler Clippard, who happens to be the other closer the team already had in the fold.
“I just saw it on Twitter and I called him and I said, ‘have you seen this?’ We were like, ‘what?’”
The conversation was short and speculative as neither player really had a lot of information about the signing, they knew as much as anyone else. But through talking it out, both Storen and Clippard found a way it can be good for the team and eventually positive for them individually as well.
“It kind of caught me of guard, but there is no doubt that he is going to make the team better, you can’t argue with that,” Storen said.
“Once you kind of find out what’s going on, it’s just a matter of communication. It makes the team better so that’s what I’m concerned about and it doesn’t make my job any different. I still gotta control what I can control and get guys out, it doesn’t matter what inning it is.”
Clippard shares Storen’s sentiment, that once the dust settled from the initial shock, they are now all teammates working towards the same goal.
“Well it was surprising, I think a lot of people were surprised about it just because coming into the offseason, myself and I think a lot of people didn’t think that was a need for our club,” he said.
“But at the end of the day it’s going to be a positive for everyone, individually we don’t need any more motivation to compete in Spring Training and now we will work that much harder to get where we want to go.”
Storen and Clippard both played a role in the Nationals’ historic collapse in Game 5 of the National League Division Series last October. Clippard allowed a solo home run in the eighth inning as St. Louis inched closer and Storen gave up the eventual tying and winning runs. Storen, however, will be the one remembered for the ninth inning meltdown as it was the lasting image of the night and the season.
In the following weeks after the Nats were bounced from the postseason, Storen says he stayed in Washington for a few days before doing some traveling. He and Clippard went to London together to get away and both say it helped. Storen, however, knows he has to get back, get back on the mound and try to move on.
“It’s tougher because you don’t have that game the next day to fix it, so I look at it as Game 6 is my workouts this offseason. That’s part of the excitement this year is looking forward to being able to correct that situation.”
Storen said that any save he blows hurts, that Game 5 was no different than taking a loss in April or any month of the season. But surely he holds some regret and sorrow for what happened.
If he had any doubts about how the fanbase would welcome him back just months later after such a crushing defeat, those had to be alleviated, at least a little, by his reception at NatsFest on Saturday. When introduced to the fans for a question-and-answer session, Storen received a standing ovation and an extended applause.
Heading into the 2013 season the fans know, as well as Storen and Clippard, that they are all in it together. They know whatever happens, this team is working collectively for the same destination.
“I’m one of 25 guys and we’re all trying to work towards the same goal,” Clippard said.
“So if we can add another piece to the puzzle that is going to help us get where we want to be, if we’re sitting here on November 1st with the trophy for the World Series, then no one is going to be complaining about anything. That’s what we’re striving for.”