Drew Storen could return to the Nationals on Thursday

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Nationals reliever Drew Storen hasn’t appeared in a major league game this season due to problems with his throwing elbow. But that’s about ready to change.

According to CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman, the 24-year-old right-hander made a dominant one-inning rehab appearance Tuesday night at Class A Potomac and could be cleared to return to the Nationals’ bullpen as early as Thursday afternoon.

“I feel confident out there and I feel comfortable,” Storen told Zuckerman. “I think that’s the main thing. That’s what you try to get in spring training. I treated these rehab appearances like they were spring training, and I’m really happy with where I’m at.”

Storen posted a 2.75 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 74/20 K/BB ratio across 75 1/3 innings last season for the Nationals, converting 43 saves in 48 opportunities. He owns a 3.10 career ERA and 8.68 career K/9.

Tyler Clippard has been acting as the Nats’ closer for the past several weeks and will remain in that role.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.