Then, a few minutes later, Scherzer took the mound for the second inning. He threw one warm-up pitch. It sailed past catcher Matt Wieters. He then motioned throat slashes to the Nationals’ dugout, signaling he couldn’t go any further and prompting unexpected angst immediately.
“I’m done,” Scherzer told Manager Dusty Baker when he walked out. “I can’t go.”
Scherzer walked off, and left-hander Matt Grace jogged in from the visitors’ bullpen. And just like that Scherzer was done for night. Almost a half-hour later, the Nationals broke from their usual policy of not giving in-game injury updates. A spokesperson said Scherzer had a neck spasm after he “slept on it funny” and took himself out as “a precaution.”
Still, the fact that Scherzer took himself out is harrowing because he has bucked the odds to become perhaps the most durable pitcher in baseball. The 33-year-old right-hander is a perennial innings eater. He led baseball in innings pitched last season and was leading baseball again this season. He hasn’t been on the disabled list since a 16-day stint with a sore shoulder in 2009. He is a workhouse.
But something went wrong — or got worse — Tuesday between his 10-pitch, a 1-2-3 first inning, and that warm-up pitch. And, according to the club, he decided it was best to remove himself from the game.
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