Associated Press file photo
Drew Storen has been under an intense spotlight since Game 5 of the NLDS.
Drew Storen believes in the opposite approach. If he blows a save, he wants to re-watch it and figure out what he did wrong.
"Any time I don't do well, it's not exactly fun to watch," he said. "It's like reading through a [term] paper somebody marked up. You felt good about the paper but didn't really do well. But that's how you learn. If I only went back and watched good outings, I wouldn't get any better."
So Storen wasn't afraid to load up a copy of Game 5 of the National League Division Series and re-live his ninth-inning collapse against the Cardinals, the agonizing conclusion to the Nationals' otherwise stellar 2012 season.
The right-hander did wait a little while to unwind following that postseason heartbreaker. But once he felt ready, he took a look and emerged feeling better because of it.
"I treated it like every other outing," he said. "I went back and watched it, because the perspective you can get from watching the game on TV is a lot different. Once I did that, I understood what I needed to learn from it."
And what did Storen take away from his viewing?
"I felt OK with what I was doing," he said. "It was easier for me to swallow, after the game, that I stuck with my game plan. It really came down to: You've got to tip your cap to those guys. Because you sit there and in your head you do all the what-ifs. But you've got to realize those guys get paid a lot to do what they do. There's just some nights you get beat. It's part of the learning process. Seeing a different viewpoint kind of helps you process things a little bit better."
Davey Johnson said that night he thought Storen was trying to nibble too much on the edges of the strike zone instead of trusting his stuff to get batters out. And the manager still feels that way, though he doesn't worry about Storen's ability to bounce back from it.
"That happens," Johnson said. "I look at it as just a little bit of inexperience. I thought I saw the same thing with Gio [Gonzalez] in the postseason. Just a little bit trying to be too fine, trying to make the perfect pitch. That comes with experience in those situations. It's a natural occurrence. He's only human. But I'm not concerned at all. I don't think a lot back on the negative, as you know."
Storen arrived for spring training determined to move on from his last outing, but he knows he'll have to do so in a new role after the Nationals made the surprising decision to sign veteran closer Rafael Soriano late in the offseason.
Soriano's arrival puts Storen into more of a setup role, though he'll still get some opportunities to close as Johnson tries to keep Soriano from being overworked. Whatever his job description reads, Storen just wants to get back on the mound in a key situation.
That path begins this week.
"Spring training is a good opportunity to work toward showing people I've moved forward," he said. "I can sit here and tell you guys all I want that I've moved forward, I've done this and that. But for me to get out there and pitch in big situations and be myself ... it's not about proving anything. It's about being me. That's the way that helps show people it's all good."
Nationals fans already told Storen everything was good from their perspective when they sent him positive messages over the winter and then gave him a standing ovation at last month's NatsFest in Washington.
The support Storen continues to receive from fans, teammates and family overwhelms him.
"The amount of support I got was incredible," he said. "It tells you how great the fans in D.C. are. And at NatsFest this year, that was incredible. I can't say how much that meant to me and my family, too. This whole offseason, the way I was treated by fans, I can't say enough. It started years back when I got a standing O on the trade deadline day [in 2011]. I've just been treated so great, and that's what makes me happy and makes me want to give this city what it deserves."