07/17/12 7:01 PM ET
Storen, Wang both nearing return to bullpen
By Mike Fiammetta / MLB.com
Storen, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning in a rehab outing with Double-A Harrisburg, hasn't reported any discomfort since returning from April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. But given those poor results -- Storen allowed the four runs on three hits and one walk -- as well as some issues with his command, the Nationals wanted him to make one more rehab outing before joining the bullpen.
"The reports I'm getting from all the pitching coaches and the manager is that his arm strength is fine," manager Davey Johnson said. "His command might be off because he's maybe trying to overthrow. His release points are a little inconsistent."
Nevertheless, Johnson did say Storen is "real close" to a return. Nats relievers sported a 3.07 ERA entering Tuesday, sixth-best in the Majors. In four earlier rehab assignments with Potomac, Storen allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits in five innings pitched.
Storen has been looking to build arm strength in his rehab assignments, and Johnson said that the right-hander could be focusing too much on his velocity.
"Part of the message when you're coming back from something like that is arm strength," Johnson said. "Storen has always had good command. His breaking ball has been a little inconsistent. Sometimes, it can be inconsistent with the arm strength not there, and sometimes it can just be inconsistent because you're trying to overthrow."
Chien-Ming Wang will also join Storen for another rehab outing in Potomac. Wang, after returning home to Taiwan for the All-Star break, pitched four innings in a start for Harrisburg on Friday night, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits.
The Nationals were pleased with the right-hander's outing, and Wang, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 3 with a right hip strain, could be close to rejoining the bullpen.
"I think I'm full go," Wang said through his interpreter before Tuesday's game. "I feel pretty good. I'm still working on my mechanics, obviously."
In 23 2/3 innings this season, Wang is 2-3 with a 7.61 ERA.
Desmond continues to rest sore left oblique
WASHINGTON -- Battling a left oblique strain that manager Davey Johnson now says could linger for the rest of the season, Ian Desmond missed his third consecutive game on Tuesday night.
The Nationals' All-Star shortstop played in the first two games of the weekend series in Miami, going 3-for-8 at the plate. But after visibly grimacing at the plate in both games -- bunting on Friday because it hurt too much to swing and falling to one knee after a swing during his final at-bat on Saturday night -- Desmond sat for the series opener with the Mets, though Johnson said at this point, a stint on the disabled list isn't being considered.
"He said this is something he thinks is going to be lingering all year long, and it's not going to get better until the offseason," Johnson said. "He wanted to go see how much he could swing and whatever, and see how it felt. ... What we're going to do is make sure we get past maybe a point where it keeps grabbing him and is bad."
Desmond is receiving treatment in the form of anti-inflammatory medication, heat packs and, as Johnson termed it, "some kind of a science-fiction tape" on the injured area.
Before sitting out Sunday's game, Desmond had played in every inning of 71 straight games. After leading the team with a .285 batting average and a .830 OPS in the first half, and belting a team-and career-high 17 home runs, Desmond was selected to the first All-Star Game of his four-year career. He ultimately elected to sit the game out, choosing to rest the oblique instead.
"I'd just rather err on the cautious side," Johnson said. "The oblique is the injury of 2012, I guess. Everybody seems to have one. I didn't know that those things were contagious."
Johnson: Werth could return in two or three weeks
WASHINGTON -- As his rehab from a broken left wrist continues to proceed as expected, Jayson Werth is nearing a return to the Nationals within the next two to three weeks, manager Davey Johnson said on Tuesday.
Werth, who suffered the injury while sliding to catch a fly ball in Philadelphia on May 6, has been targeting a return date in the first week of August, if not sooner. The Nats' right fielder was shagging fly balls during batting practice during the weeks leading up to the All-Star break, and is expected to begin swinging the bat shortly.
"Jayson Werth is progressing really good," Johnson said, adding that he would have more finalized information on Wednesday. "The chances of him reinjuring the bone that was broken, unless some catastrophe happens, that's not going to happen. It's probably going to be stronger than his other wrist, with the procedure that he had."
In 27 games before the injury, Werth batted .276 with a .810 OPS, three home runs and 12 RBIs in 98 at-bats.
The Nationals host one of Werth's former teams, the Phillies for a three-game series beginning July 31.
According to manager Davey Johnson, catcher Jhonatan Solano has been dealing with an oblique injury since he last played on July 15. Johnson said Solano should be available Wednesday against the Mets.
The Nats began a seven-game homestand that will feature games against two NL East rivals, the Mets and the Braves, over the next six days. Saturday is a day-night doubleheader against Atlanta.
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.