CHICAGO — Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer played catch from 60 feet Friday morning and did his usual post-start running at Wrigley Field in Chicago, then reported “no setbacks” following his return against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Scherzer threw 71 pitches in four innings in his first outing since July 25 and stuck to his logic throughout a long recovery process: “It’s more about tomorrow than it is today,” he said after the game. So here came tomorrow, and Scherzer was in his regular routine, a good sign given that pain after his previous start kept him sidelined for an additional three-plus weeks.
“I just know I got to continue in the program. I’m not out of the woods,” Scherzer said when asked whether he was relieved by the way his body responded Friday. “I got to still take care of this, got to do all the treatment, got to do all the strengthening, really focus on that so I can build up the intensity in the game. This is the endurance injury on my back, so we got to treat it as such.”
If all goes well in the coming days, including a bullpen session in Chicago this weekend, Scherzer is expected to pitch against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. But Manager Dave Martinez has considered a few ways to give the 35-year-old some extra rest. Joe Ross had been day-to-day with a shin contusion but will start Saturday. That means Erick Fedde could be used as a long reliever.
Yet Martinez has thought about using Fedde as a sixth starter and utilizing depth and upcoming off days to give the entire rotation a breather. Scherzer didn’t have thoughts on that potential plan. He’s just focused on keeping his back and shoulder healthy moving forward.
“I don’t know. We’re day-to-day,” Scherzer said before the Nationals’ 9-3 win over the Cubs on Friday. “I’m day-to-day. I’ve been day-to-day for six weeks.”
When asked about fighting his competitive nature, and taking it slow while itching to be 100 percent, Scherzer looked at the bigger picture. He even offered up the possibility that this string of injuries — first diagnosed as a mid-back strain, then bursitis in the scapula below his right shoulder blade, then a rhomboid strain after that late-July start — could benefit him down the line.
“I understand more about this injury more than ever, and right now I can go out there and pitch in a controlled manner and not just try to rear back and throw as hard as I can in certain situations,” Scherzer said. “You know, heck, in some ways this might make me a better pitcher. When I come out on the other side, I may be a better pitcher because of this because of what I’m learning how to do right now and how to still be sharp and yet still be controlled.
“So let’s look at this glass half full.”
Trea Turner SS
Adam Eaton RF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Juan Soto LF
Howie Kendrick 1B
Kurt Suzuki C
Brian Dozier 2B
Victor Robles CF
Aníbal Sánchez P
Jason Heyward CF
Nicholas Castellanos RF
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Javier Baez SS
Kyle Schwarber LF
Jonathan Lucroy C
Tony Kemp 2B
Jon Lester P