WASHINGTON -- Activated from the disabled list earlier on Thursday, Drew Storen made his season debut in the ninth inning of the Nationals' 9-5 loss to the Mets.
Storen, who underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow in April, sent David Wright, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jason Bay down in order on nine pitches, five of which were strikes. The 24-year-old right-hander forced Wright to ground out on the first pitch he threw, impressive in its own right considering the Mets third baseman terrorized the Nats with two home runs and five RBIs on the day.
"It was pretty emotional for me, to be honest with you," Storen said. "To cap it off, it was a great ovation from the fans, and it really means a lot. It really kind of makes this 3-4 months seem a little bit shorter. I was under control out there and I felt like I had command. That's all I was looking for."
The Nats have said Storen will be eased back into the bullpen before any consideration is given to him reclaiming his role as closer.
Last year, Storen saved 43 games for the Nats, finishing with a 6-3 record and a 2.75 ERA in his second season in the Majors. His roommate and closest friend on the team, Tyler Clippard, took over the closer's role in late May. His late struggles notwithstanding, Clippard has excelled, picking up 15 saves in 17 opportunities with a 2.42 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.
"I thought he was a little rusty, but he threw strikes," manager Davey Johnson said of Storen's outing. "I was real pleased he got a chance and went 1-2-3. I figured he was going to throw a bunch of pitches the first time out, but that was good."
Leon recalled as Solano heads to disabled list
WASHINGTON -- With Jhonatan Solano battling a strained left oblique, the Nationals recalled Sandy Leon from Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday to serve as the backup catcher.
Leon recorded his first big league hit in the seventh inning of Washington's 9-5 loss to the Mets, finishing the day 1-for-3.
Solano was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 18.
Jesus Flores has been taking a heavy physical toll as the team's everyday catcher while also seeing his batting average drop to .230. Solano had thrived in his first Major League action, batting .314 with two home runs, six RBIs and a .923 OPS in 35 at-bats since his debut on May 29.
"We like both of our backup catchers," general manger Mike Rizzo said. "Solano did a great job for us and Leon is a young player, but he gives [manager] Davey [Johnson] some versatility as a switch-hitter off the bench, and he's a catch-throw guy that was playing extremely well in Double-A when we called him."
Leon also saw his first action in the big leagues earlier this season, but lasted just four innings after suffering a high right ankle sprain during a collision at home plate against the Padres on May 14. The 23-year-old Venezuelan catcher hit .313 with 15 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs in 45 games with Harrisburg and Class A Auburn.
"It was pretty tough, because that's the dream for all players, to play in the big leagues," Leon said of his injury, adding that it took him about two weeks to feel confident playing on it. "But it happens, and I'm back, that's the good thing."
Rizzo: Werth can set own schedule for rehab
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth took batting practice at Nationals Park for the second straight day as he continues to near a return from the broken left wrist he suffered in early May.
Werth is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Potomac in the next couple of days, though general manager Mike Rizzo said the 10-year veteran will largely be able to set his own schedule. Werth has been targeting a return to the Nationals around the first week in August.
"Jayson's a veteran player who's gone through a wrist injury before," Rizzo said. "So he's going to more or less set his own schedule and see when he's prepared to go out and go on a rehab assignment. My job will be to pull him back, because I know he wants to get out there sooner rather than later."
After hitting the ball well during Wednesday's lengthy batting practice session, Werth came back for another before Thursday's early 12:35 p.m. series finale with the Mets.
Rizzo said that Werth's wrist felt fine, though other parts of the outfielder's body were sore since he is still getting accustomed to swinging the bat again.
"He has full range of motion in the wrist and it's just the repetition of it," Rizzo said. "The beginning of the batting practice round was always more impressive than the tail end of it because of the fatigue of the wrist. So we need for him to build up stamina in the wrist and be able to take good, full swings and be at 100 percent strength when he gets out there and is ready to play in games."
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.