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Storen progressing slower than planned

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Storen progressing slower than planned

MIAMI -- When Drew Storen set out to begin his rehab stint 12 days ago, the Nationals reliever expressed confidence his time in the minor leagues would be brief.

The Nationals' plan for Storen called for four rehab appearances before he would make his season debut Friday night as the club came out of the All-Star break.

Storen, of course, never appeared in Miami. And when the Nationals open a key, seven-game homestand tonight against the Mets, he'll be 30 miles down the road in Woodbridge, making another rehab stint with Class A Potomac.

This will be the right-hander's sixth minor-league game, and the previous five have featured mixed results. That includes Sunday's appearance at Class AA Harrisburg, when Storen gave up four runs on three hits (including a homer) and a walk in only two-thirds of an inning.

"I think his outing was fine," manager Davey Johnson said yesterday. "I talked to the pitching coach down there, the manager felt like probably one more outing and his command would get a little better, that his breaking ball would be more consistent."

The issue, as Johnson pointed out, has been Storen's command, which has been slow to return following his April surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

"I'm not worried about his velocity or the strength of his arm," Johnson said. "I think his arm is in great shape."

The Nationals hope tonight's game at Potomac is Storen's last in the minors. If all goes well, they plan to activate him off the disabled list before Thursday's game.

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Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

If you've understandably been caught up with the Capitals and Wizards in their respective playoff series, you might not be aware of just how hot Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is right now. Fresh off a three-game sweep of the rival Mets in New York, Harper was named National League Player of the Week. 

For the whole week, Harper hit .550 (11-for-20) with four doubles, three home runs, seven RBI, seven walks and 10 runs scored. 

He is now leading all of baseball in batting average (.400), he's tied for second in homers (7), and he's alone in second in RBI (20). He's also amassed a blistering 1.340 OPS through the team's first 18 games. 

Harper's biggest game of the past week came in Atlanta when he went yard twice, with his second homer being a grand slam. He finished the game 4-for-4 with two homers, one double, five RBI, one walk and four runs scored. 

With Harper's injuries from last season behind him (even though he won't completely admit to being hurt), the Nationals' right fielder is back to, or even better than, his 2015 form that ended with his first career MVP award. During that season Harper took home player of the week honors three times. 

The Nationals as a team have the best record in baseball at 13-5, and already have a three-game lead in the NL East. 

RELATED: MLB Power Rankings

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Charlie Blackmon hits 2-run homer, Rockies beat Nationals 8-4

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USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Blackmon hits 2-run homer, Rockies beat Nationals 8-4

DENVER (AP) -- Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run homer in the seventh, Colorado's lights-out bullpen threw three-plus scoreless innings and the Colorado Rockies beat Washington 8-4 on Monday night, ending the Nationals' seven-game winning streak.

Trailing 4-3, Blackmon lined a hanging slider from lefty Enny Romero (1-1) into the right-field stands. It was Blackmon's sixth homer of the season and followed a pinch-hit double from Pat Valaika -- his first hit of the season.

The Rockies' relievers came through once again after starter Tyler Anderson wore down. Carlos Estevez (2-0) got four outs and Adam Ottavino threw an effective eighth. Greg Holland pitched the ninth in a non-save situation after the Rockies added three insurance runs in the eighth. He got pinch-hitter Bryce Harper to ground out to end the game.

The Rockies' bullpen is now 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA, which is tops in the NL.

MORE NATIONALS: BRYCE HARPER PICKS UP HIS FIRST PIECE OF HARDWARE ON THE SEASON