Nationals Pitcher Drew Storen Replaced: How Will Relief Pitcher Respond?

4:26 PM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
Drew Storen's 2013 campaign the most important of his career. (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES)
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Behind losing a loved one, there are two feelings in life that absolutely suck.

Heartbreak is on top of the list. And being replaced at your job is second.

Both interrupt your daily train of thought and are hard to zone out, even for the most mentally tough people.

Though it wasn't heartbreak of the romantic form, Nats relief pitcher Drew Storen has now experienced both of those painful feelings in a span of four months. 

Nobody captured the raw emotion and Storen's hurt than the Washington Post's Mike Wise, an absolute must read. And ESPN's baseball historian Tim Kurkjian told me after the vaunted game five that the Nationals loss "might be the most depressing in MLB history." Although all of it wasn't on Storen's shoulders, a large heap of it was.

And then today happened. 

On Tuesday, Storen's team, the Washington Nationals, stunned the baseball world by announcing they've signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year $28 million deal. Soriano, 33, was dominant last season in replacing Mariano Riveria with the Yankees, securing 42 saves. He also now is the highest paid reliever in the entire MLB, all but assuring him the closers role. 

It's hard not to be a humongous fan of this acquisition. It puts Washington's bullpen right up their with their rival Atlanta's as the best in baseball. It gives the Nats depth in case of injuries.

But my biggest question and concern is what does this do to the mentality of Drew Storen? In years past, the 25-year-old has been the happy-go-lucky jokester in the locker room; always jovial with the media, relishing in his important role as the team's closer.

Look, everyone in that locker room wants to win a World Series, especially in Davey Johnson's last year. But reducing Storen's role and not expecting it to interfere with his normally positive attitude is a large request.

Nats general manager Mike Rizzo spoke loud with his actions on Tuesday. He essentially said my organization cannot afford another playoff meltdown from Drew Storen, and I'm willing to pay the highest price possible.

Storen, a former top-10 pick, once seemed like a perennial all-star out of the bullpen. Now? He's been replaced. Even further, the Nationals have the depth (Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen) to move him all the way to the sixth inning if he struggles at any point this season.

In 2013, we will find out how mentally tough Drew Storen is. This will be the year that defines the rest of his career.

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