This is of little consolation to Nationals fans after the club lost in heartbreaking fashion during the NLDS against the Cardinals, but it turns out that Drew Storen wasn’t quite at 100 percent when the season came crashing down. In fact, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman hears that Storen was pitching through “excruciating” back pain.
It might have been easy at some point during interview after interview he has done this winter and spring to let slip that he was having terrible back pain in Game 5, that he’d spend much of the final three days in the trainers room receiving treatment for back spasms others described as unbearable. Not him, though. Storen wouldn’t say a thing about it. Still won’t. Not really.
Storen merely said that he “wanted to be out there” and that he “grinded,” but Jayson Werth was a bit more forthcoming.
“He was having real bad back spasms. That was the third day (pitching) in a row,” teammate Jayson Werth said. “He was banged up, man. No one knew. For him to just have the balls to go out there, that says a lot about him.”
“I’m not blaming his injury,” Werth said. “He just wasn’t healthy.”
Werth said that “no one knew,” but if Storen was getting treatment during the series, I’m going to assume that manager Davey Johnson was aware of it. And that makes it all the more curious that Storen pitched in an 8-0 loss in Game 3 despite the distinct possibility that he could be needed in the next two games. Again, doesn’t matter much now, but it’s interesting to think about now that we have some added context.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.