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Drew Storen blew a ninth-inning save today against the Marlins.
That wasn't, however, Storen's primary objective when he emerged from the right-field bullpen for the top of the ninth today and the Nationals clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Marlins.
How did he treat this situation?
"Treat it like a live batting practice," Storen said. "That's really what you've got to do. There's no point in sitting there right now going: 'This is the ninth inning, this is all that.' It's nice to win and all that right now, but in the end it's about preparing yourself for the season. It's about the 162, not the whatever we're playing this spring. That's the way I look at it."
So Storen was less concerned about the results he posted in this game -- two straight hard-hit balls to open the inning, then an RBI groundout that tied the game and ensured he'd be tagged with a blown save -- and more concerned about the way he pitched.
Focusing mostly on fastballs, Storen didn't approach the five batters he faced -- all of them wearing uniform numbers ranging between 61 and 85 -- as though he was trying to record three outs in a regular-season game.
"It's so far out, I don't need to hit the accelerator right now," he said. "I have the ability to work on some things. ... You just take it easy and work through things and just kind of get a feel for it, because you do have that extra adrenaline going on the mound, no matter what situation it is. So it's just about toning it down and being in control the whole time. Not overstepping it. You've got to jog before you sprint."
Under normal circumstances, few would have even noticed Storen's linescore from what proved to be a 2-2, 10-inning tie that also featured a 1-hour, 6-minute rain delay. But given the way last season ended, with Storen blowing a two-run lead to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS, the right-hander's spring debut was going to draw attention regardless.
Storen, though, has learned how to approach these early spring outings after coming out with guns blazing previous years. He wound up experiencing elbow pain after his 2012 debut and following surgery to remove bone chips didn't appear in his first regular-season game until mid-July.
"That's the challenge that spring training is," he said. "I got in trouble last year doing that, because I didn't [go easy the first time out]. ... In a competitive situation, you want to sit there and do all those things, but you've got to look at the big picture and know it's February whatever-it-is and we've got a long time to go."
Storen certainly wasn't concerned after the fact. Neither was his manager.
"He had good velocity, but he just left some balls up, out over the plate," Davey Johnson said. "I don't put too much stock in it early. I want these guys to be ready for Opening Day."