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Werth, Storen near return

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Werth, Storen near return

The Nationals' two biggest roster additions this summer might not come via a blockbuster move at the July 31 trade deadline but rather the pending return of two key players from the disabled list: Jayson Werth and Drew Storen.

Each recovering player is moving closer to a return from the DL. Storen could be activated in time to make his season debut tomorrow afternoon; at the same time Werth could be beginning a minor-league rehab assignment.

Storen sounds ready to face big-league hitters after a dominant, one-inning performance Tuesday night with Class A Potomac. That was his sixth rehab appearance and his most effective (he struck out two of the three Lynchburg batters he faced).

"I feel confident out there and I feel comfortable," he said. "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, who had surgery in April to remove a bone spur in his elbow, hasn't pitched on back-to-back days yet. But he noted he didn't do that in previous spring trainings and feels confident he'll be able to to perform when called upon now.

"It's one of those things were adrenaline takes over," he said. "I feel physically strong enough to do it. And I've done it before. I feel like I can come back and do it now."

Werth, meanwhile, took a major step forward today when he took a full round of batting practice for the first time since breaking his left wrist on May 6. The veteran outfielder didn't show any rust at all, at one point driving seven consecutive pitches over the fence in either left or center field.

"I was really pleasantly surprised," manager Davey Johnson said. "I didn't think he'd be hitting for another week, and he didn't seem like he felt any discomfort."

Things went so well for Werth that he requested to immediately begin a minor-league rehab assignment tomorrow, and the Nationals might oblige.

"After I saw him hit, I don't see any reason to think differently," Johnson said.

Werth will probably spend considerable time on his rehab assignment, perhaps more than two weeks, as he tries to get his timing down and get his body into game shape. The Nationals still expect him to come off the DL sometime during the first week of August.

"He pretty much knows his body better than anybody," Johnson said. "He knows what he needs to do to come back, and he knows where we're at in a pennant race. He doesn't want to be half-stepping. It'll be entirely up to him and how he's feeling."

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Nationals stage spirited rally in ninth but fall just short in series opener vs. Cubs

Nationals stage spirited rally in ninth but fall just short in series opener vs. Cubs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wade Davis struck out batting leader Ryan Zimmerman with runners on second and third to end Washington's ninth-inning rally, and the Chicago Cubs held off the Nationals 5-4 Monday night.

In jeopardy of being shut out for the first time this season, the NL East-leading Nationals scored four times in the ninth. Their comeback began against Hector Rondon and continued when Davis entered.

MORE: CSN'S UPDATED MLB POWER RANKINGS

With Washington down 5-3, Bryce Harper's single loaded the bases with two outs. Davis threw a wild pitch that scored a run before striking out a swinging Zimmerman, who's hitting .344. The final pitch bounced, and catcher Willson Contreras zipped a low throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to close out the victory.

Contreras hit a leadoff home run in his first career game-opening at-bat and Eddie Butler (4-2) worked five scoreless innings to keep the Cubs ahead.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: The Dodgers don't lose anymore

2017 MLB Power Rankings: The Dodgers don't lose anymore

The Dodgers are living their best life right now. 

Cody Bellinger looks like he's just going to go and hit two home runs a game for the rest of the year, Yasiel Puig is fun again and they're fresh off a 10-game win streak. Kenley Jansen went 112 batters without issuing a walk. All of this is coming, by the way, during a year when Clayton Kershaw is more Very Good than he is Great.

It's a good time to be a fan of an incredibly young and talented team in a top-5 market with a well-regarded front office that's been written a blank check. How did everyone not named the Dodgers do this week? To the rankings! 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

30. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 24-49
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance:  Maikel Franco (.333/.419/.481 last week)

And there goes Maikel Franco, right back on the trade block. The Phillies' rebuild is starting to look a lot murkier. 

29. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2017 Record: 27-50
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Notable Performance: Brandon Belt (.316/.409/.947 last week)

It's weird to see the Giants play THIS poorly. Johnny Cueto is arguably the best available starter on the trade market though, and that obviously bodes well for their future. 

28. CINCINNATI REDS

2017 Record: 29-38
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Notable Performance: Joey Votto (.360/.385/.680 last week)

When you go 1-9 over the last 10 and let the Nats put an 18-spot on you, you drop a spot or two in the rankings. Them's the rules. 

27. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 31-44
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Yangervis Solarte (.364/.462/.909 last week)

In an annual July tradition, the Padres will fleece someone for one of their relievers. Brad Hand in a Dodgers uniform, anyone? 

26. DETROIT TIGERS

2017 Record: 32-42
Previous Ranking: 15
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Miguel Cabrera (.400/.444/.840 last week)

The Tigers are our biggest fallers of the week. 2-8 in their last 10, including a frustrating Perfect Game bid broken up by a bunt single. Not their best week. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE