SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When healthy, newest Royals right-hander Drew Storen possessed what some hitters used to refer to as a "Wiffle Ball slider."After successful Tommy John surgery in September 2017, Storen, 31, believes he has that magical spin back.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::"The biggest thing I've
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When healthy, newest Royals right-hander Drew Storen possessed what some hitters used to refer to as a "Wiffle Ball slider."
After successful Tommy John surgery in September 2017, Storen, 31, believes he has that magical spin back.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"The biggest thing I've seen this year is, I can appreciate my ability to spin the ball again," said Storen, who spoke to reporters for the first time since signing a Minor League deal on Friday. "That's been the most exciting part for me.
"The movement and the lateness, that's what I see again."
Storen opened eyes everywhere with the Nationals in 2014, when he posted a 1.12 ERA in 65 games. The next season, he saved 29 games for the Nats.
But elbow issues started creeping up in 2016, when he had a combined ERA of 5.23 between stops with the Blue Jays and Mariners. Then in 2017, he battled through 56 games with the Reds with some success -- a 4.45 ERA -- but he finally had to shut down his season in early September.
"You can just tell, like spinning the ball, you can tell I was trying to get around [the injury]," Storen said. "You don't know how much until you get a new elbow."
Storen had the surgery in late September of that month.
After a year of recovery, Storen began throwing for scouts last December. Royals pro scouting director Gene Watson saw Storen twice and recommended the signing. Assistant general manager Scott Sharp also saw Storen throw a bullpen in Indianapolis -- where Storen lives -- and eventually closed the deal last week.
"I had a great conversation with [pitching coach] Cal [Eldred], talked to Scott Sharp a lot," Storen said. "They talked a lot about culture, so I knew I'd be a good fit.
"Through the years, I've heard great things about the organization. Just talking with people from the team throughout the process made me believe this was a top target."
Storen believes he will hit the ground running this spring.
"I'm [throwing] off the mound." Storen said. "I'm 18 months out [from surgery] and throwing twice a week off the mound, so I'm right where I should be. "No limitations, none. With the timing of the surgery, I gave myself plenty of time to come into Spring Training this year and not feel like I was rushed. If anything had come up, knock on wood, I had leeway. Nothing has come up.
"Having a year off, I know it's going to take a while. It'll be a process. I'm not going to try to be a hero on Day One."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.