ATLANTA -- The Nationals are dealing with elements seemingly everywhere they turn.
After playing in the altitude, a mile above sea level in Denver, the club returned east to be greeted with triple-digit temperatures in Atlanta on Friday.
Washington split with the Rockies in the four-game set, but the Nationals averaged 8.75 runs per game. Now, manager Davey Johnson said he wants to see his team keep the offense going back down at sea level.
"You hope they throw pitchers that hang a lot of breaking balls and stuff like that," Johnson joked, referring to the upcoming series at Turner Field. "Atlanta's always been known for having a good pitching staff, but one thing about coming from Colorado is your confidence gets up. The mental aspect of hitting is very important."
Most notably, Ryan Zimmerman (7-for-19 with two home runs, three doubles) and Michael Morse (9-for-19 with a double and a home run) had big series in Denver, boosting their stats.
"They can rest easier when they look up on the board and see their batting average is not as embarrassing."
As for the heat -- temperatures reached 106 degrees on Friday -- Johnson doesn't mind it.
"This feels good," he said. "I like it, it's more humid. It's better for everybody."
Storen progressing toward mid-July return
ATLANTA -- Nationals reliever Drew Storen threw a live batting-practice session on Friday at Turner Field, and is aiming to return to action once the team resumes play after the All-Star break.
Storen, who logged 43 saves last season, threw 40 pitches to hitters and said afterward that it felt great.
"My elbow feels better now than it ever did last year," he said. "Even last year, after I was done, it'd kind of be a little swollen, and I just thought that was normal. Now, it feels really good."
Manager Davey Johnson said Storen will throw a two-inning simulated game, likely on Monday, before embarking on a rehab assignment. Neither Johnson nor Storen could say for sure, but both said it was likely that he could return when the team picks up again July 13 in Miami.
"I'd say that's probably a pretty good time," Johnson said. "It all depends."
Storen, who had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow in April, has been on the disabled list the duration of the season. It remains uncertain what his role will be when he returns -- Tyler Clippard is 12-for-12 in save opportunities this season since taking over for Henry Rodriguez in late May -- but Storen says he's fine with the setup role, if need be.
"That's fine, [Johnson's] supporting the guy that's gotten this team to where it's at," Storen said this weekend. "Tyler's been that guy, he's been that guy for the three years he's been here. [Johnson is] supporting him, but at the same time, I know when I come back, I'm going to need to get my feet wet."
Potomac Nats' stadium evacuated due to fire
ATLANTA -- Pfitzner Stadium, the home of the Nationals' Class A affiliate in Woodbridge, Va., was evacuated on Friday because of a fire, according to local news reports.
The Potomac Nationals are currently on the road, in Salem, Va.
According to reports from PotomacLocal.com, employees were in the management offices when they smelled what they thought was natural gas, and they evacuated the building. They later saw flames through the windows. According to the report, one person was being treated for smoke inhalation.
The team's next scheduled home game is July 4.