Drew Storen ready to face hitters following elbow surgery

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The last time we checked in on Drew Storen, he just resumed throwing off a mound following April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Now he’s ready to take the next step.

According to Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com, Storen is scheduled to throw live batting practice tomorrow for the first time since surgery. He’ll start out by throwing all fastballs. The 24-year-old right-hander threw his slider off the mound for the first time yesterday and estimates that he’s currently throwing at about 85-90 percent.

“I’m still making progress every day and I’m having no pain,” Storen said. “I’m starting to get the feeling that I felt before I got hurt, so I’m really happy with where I’m at, but it’s still a day-by-day process.”

Storen still has a few hurdles to cross, including a minor league rehab assignment, but the Nationals are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return around the All-Star break. Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez were each given chances to close games in Storen’s absence, but Tyler Clippard has emerged as a dominant closer recently, going 10-for-10 in save chances. The 27-year-old right-hander has logged 13 1/3 scoreless innings dating back to May 16.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.