Max Scherzer took a big step toward his return Saturday. His second injured-list stint this season began in late July. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

NEW YORK — Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer took a stride on his long road of recovery Saturday afternoon. The right-hander threw a 36-pitch bullpen session, his first time on a mound since he hit the injured list with a mild rhomboid muscle strain July 26.

“I don’t know,” Scherzer said when asked about a timeline for his return. “It’s not soon enough, whenever it is.”

The 35-year-old said he felt “good” during the bullpen session and that he’s “progressing” to where he wants to be. Manager Dave Martinez again cautioned against allowing Scherzer to hurry himself along.

“He’s understanding where we are coming from," Martinez said. “We’re trying to get him healthy, not just for one part but for the rest of the season. We are being very cautious.”

Scherzer didn’t feel discomfort during the session, but that’s not the problem. Instead, Scherzer said, he is concerned about how he recovers. The right-hander returned from his first IL stint July 25 to start against the Colorado Rockies and allowed three runs in five innings. Although he felt okay during the game, he felt sore later on and the next morning, so now he is left awaiting the true results of this bullpen session, which should come by Sunday morning.

The time required between outing and evaluation grates on Scherzer. Known for his vigor, he said he doesn’t approach this layoff any differently than he did his first injury. He waved away the idea he was no “more cautious or any other adjective you want to throw out there,” and zeroed in on what he needs to do to get back as soon as possible.

“It’s a matter of managing that [first] start, managing [the] next start, managing how I feel after it and how I recover,” he said.

The pitcher who loves control is also listening to the team’s approach.

“He’s very intense. We all see it every fifth day, but throughout his whole workouts in between he gets after it,” Martinez said. “This is an issue that he doesn’t want it to reoccur, so he’s trying to figure out ways how to mix in exercises to keep that area strengthened.”

In the meantime, Scherzer has undergone soft tissue work and stem-cell treatment to keep his body prepared. His arm still felt rusty during the bullpen session, though Scherzer admitted he couldn’t do much about that. He said the unfamiliar delay has made it “hard to gauge” where he’s at.

Now Scherzer wants to build his endurance back up to the elite level it was at before, when he could regularly throw more than 110 pitches an one outing.

“That’s the biggest challenge in all of this, to know how much endurance will be there in my back when I actually get back out there,” he said. “We want to make sure I’m as strong as possible so that, when I’m actually back in the game, I’ll be good to go.”

Nationals (61-54)

Trea Turner, SS

Adam Eaton, RF

Anthony Rendon, 3B

Juan Soto, LF

Matt Adams, 1B

Asdrúbal Cabrera, 2B

Victor Robles, CF

Yan Gomes, C

Patrick Corbin, LHP

New York Mets (60-56)

Jeff McNeil, 2B

Amed Rosario, SS

Pete Alonso, 1B

J.D. Davis, LF

Wilson Ramos, C

Michael Conforto, RF

Todd Frazier, 3B

Juan Lagares, CF

Noah Syndergaard, RHP

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