As first reported by Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals closer Drew Storen underwent minor surgery Wednesday on his throwing elbow.
The procedure, performed in D.C., was designed to remove bone fragments and was deemed a success.
The Nationals aren’t saying for certain how long Storen will be out, but sources told Ladson on Wednesday evening that the team is confident he’ll be back in the major leagues sometime before the All-Star break. Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge are expected to continue handling ninth-inning duties for the time being.
Storen, 24, registered a sparkling 2.75 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 73 appearances last season, saving 43 games in 48 opportunities while fanning 74 batters across 75 1/3 innings. He’ll certainly be missed.
Chris Heisey was on the bench for the third time in six games Wednesday, but he didn’t seem to mind. He might actually be in line for more time there after delivering a pinch-hit game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals.
“I can’t really explain why I’m more relaxed pinch-hitting than I am when I’m up there in a late-game situation after being a starter,” Heisey told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tom Groeschen. “It just seems to work better pinch-hitting, and I don’t have any reason to explain that.”
True or not, Heisey was naive to make such a comment. Words like that can cement reputations in baseball. If Heisey doesn’t have that burning desire to start, it’ll quickly become a part of his permanent record and he could find himself with limited opportunities going forward. Of course, this is just one quote taken in the afterglow of a game-winning hit and it probably doesn’t mean much. Still, he’d be smart not to advertise such thoughts again.
As for Heisey’s current situation, well, the guy he’s splitting time with, Ryan Ludwick, is off to a 1-for-11 start. Heisey deserves a shot to play regularly based on his performance as a part-timer the last two years. But if Dusty Baker thinks he’s at least as valuable off the bench as he is in the lineup, then it’s not likely to happen.
The Orioles added some additional pitching depth Wednesday, signing Joel Pineiro to a minor league contract.
He’ll pitch out of the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk initially.
There was shockingly little interest in Pineiro over the winter, and he ended up signing a minor league deal with the Phillies even though it was obvious they had no room for him. He was cut after allowing five runs — three earned — in six innings this spring.
While Pinero struggled to a 5.13 ERA in 24 starts and three relief appearances for the Angels last season, he did finish with a 3.49 ERA for the Cardinals in 2009 and a 3.84 ERA for the Angels in 2010. His ability to get groundballs could make him pretty useful to the Orioles, perhaps in a middle relief role at first.