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.

Blue Jays place Aaron Sanchez on 10-day disabled list with blister issue

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The Blue Jays placed right-hander Aaron Sanchez on the 10-day disabled list with a blister on his right middle finger, the club announced Saturday. This marks the fourth disabled list stint for Sanchez this season after blister issues cropped up again during his start against the Red Sox on Wednesday. Per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, there is still no estimated timetable for his return to the mound.

Sanchez, 25, has made just eight starts for the Blue Jays in 2017. Between multiple trips to the DL, he’s racked up a 4.25 ERA, 5.0 BB/9 and 6.0 SO/9 through 36 innings and currently carries a 1-3 record. He started to look stable after delivering his first quality start last week, but lasted only four innings against Boston on Wednesday night and issued six hits, five runs and two strikeouts in another losing effort.

In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays activated right-hander Joe Smith from the 10-day disabled list (right shoulder inflammation) and recalled fellow righty Chris Smith from Triple-A Buffalo. Left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau, who suffered in an eight-run inning during Friday’s 13-3 loss to the Indians, was designated for assignment.

Diamondbacks promote Anthony Banda

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Diamondbacks’ left-hander Anthony Banda is set to make his big league debut on Saturday, per a team announcement. The Diamondbacks recalled the southpaw from Triple-A Reno prior to the game after Taijuan Walker was placed on paternity leave.

It’s been a rough season for the club’s top prospect, who enters Saturday’s contest with a 5.08 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.3 SO/9 over his first 101 innings in Triple-A this season. The 23-year-old lefty carries a 7-5 record through his first 18 starts and is coming off of his worst outing of the year, during which he issued 15 hits, seven runs and just one strikeout against the Angels-affiliated Salt Lake Bees.

Facing Banda is Nationals’ right-hander Tanner Roark, who owns a 4.98 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 through 106 2/3 innings in 2017. Roark pitched a respectable six innings in his last start, scattering four hits, three runs and five strikeouts en route to his seventh win of the season. He also has the added benefit of pitching behind one of the league’s most potent offenses, and boasts a hefty run support average of 5.68 runs per game.

The D-backs currently lead the Nationals, 1-0, and will face off for their second game at 8:10 ET on Saturday night.