Max Scherzer: Broken nose game was no 'bloody sock' performance

Chris Lingebach
June 21, 2019 - 4:00 pm

Max Scherzer's latest 10-strikeout shutout performance, in which he battled through a black eye and broken nose, was no bloody sock game, the Nationals ace told 106.7 The Fan on Friday.

"I had zero pain. I didn't feel anything in the nose whatsoever," Scherzer told 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny. Scherzer appears on the show every Nationals homestand, and is presented by F.H. Furr

"The only thing I had to deal with was just the swelling and my eye just kind of jiggling a little bit when I was warming up," he said. "But once I got used to that, I felt exactly the way I've been feeling over the past few starts, so I felt absolutely zero pain when I was pitching."

"So when we called it your 'bloody sock game,' we overdid it a bit?" asked Paulsen.

"Yeah," Scherzer said. "You overdid it a lot."

"It just looks ugly," he added. "I mean, the number of things that I actually had to pitch through, where I was actually dealing with pain, I mean those hurt. This didn't hurt. So this was just something that I think just looked – you know, everybody can see, I mean you have a black eye, so obviously it just looks a million times worse than it actually was."

Scherzer broke his nose the day before his Wednesday start when, practicing getting bunts down, an errant ball popped off the side of his bat and shot straight back into his face.

"We had worked because I messed up a bunt the previous start," Scherzer explained the reason for the drills. "We had the pitching machine out and it was cranking at like 95 miles an hour, and I was working on trying to really deaden the ball, to really feel like I've got my technique down to actually bunt from a fastball and actually deaden it.

"And so the next day, Bobby, our BP guy, he's flipping them in there. He was just getting his arm loose. And so those are pointless bunts to me anyway, to bunt those balls when they're flipping in at 40. Like, you get nothing out of it when you're used to bunting 90."

"And so my hand-eye coordination just got off just a click, and just my hands got in a bad position," he said. "And it's one of those freak things that happened where it just went at the right angle where it just went into my face."

Scherzer did not immediately notice his nose was broken.

"Well, because he was lobbing it in there, when it hit my face, I didn't think it was that bad," he said of the moment of impact. "When I initially got hit, I mean, yeah, I got hit in the face, but he was literally throwing like 40 miles an hour in there just getting his arm loose. So I really didn't think it was that bad, and then I looked down and saw I was bleeding. I was like, 'Oh gosh, obviously this is a little bit more than I thought.'

"And then I continued to bleed a little bit, and then everybody looked up and they're like 'you've got a broken nose,' and I was like 'oh my gosh.' Because I didn't feel that much pain considering what was going on."

Scherzer says he knew he would make his start as scheduled after an off-site medical visit to get his nose checked out.

"And so they went in there, the docs set it immediately and I was like, 'I'm good.' I felt like I was good," he said. "I wasn't in that much actual pain. And they wanted to get the CT scan, make sure there wasn't any like eye fractures or any other face fractures, just for the doctors to have them give the thumbs up for me to pitch. But yeah, the whole time I was good to go."

"I've broken that nose before. Basketball," Scherzer said. "When I was a kid I took an elbow to the nose. It's not fun."

As for the pain level as the doctors are setting the nose, Scherzer said, "You just gotta suck it up a little bit and let 'em press on something that hurts a little bit. I mean it wasn't that bad. The doctors kind of set it real quick. He did a good job. Even the people at the CT scan were impressed at how well he did it."

Scherzer's velocity has risen steadily throughout the season, but has really picked up in his past several starts. Where he was consistently sitting on 94 at the start of the season, the 34-year-old is now regularly hitting 96 and higher. Scherzer recently made a tweak in his posture, but that's not what he credits for the spike in his fastball.

"I think the velo is more a product of the weather than it is of anything I'm actually doing," Scherzer said. "I also feel like my fastball location has also picked up a tick, and I'm able to get through the ball in the correct way so that I can locate better.

"From the mechanics standpoint, yes. That's definitely something that, when I made that kind of tweak, that I really feel like I'm driving through the ball in a much more direct line towards home plate. And I really feel like that's the reason why I'm having success."

"For the velo, I mean it's just warmed up," he said. "Any time you have nice, humid weather – my entire life, any time you get humid weather, it always plays up a little bit more because you're just nice and loose."

Asked why that is, Scherzer explained, "I mean, when it's just warm, you don't have to do anything to get loose and then when you get nice, summertime weather, you don't even have to put that much energy into actually trying to throw hard. It just naturally happens, because your body's just so warmed up, to the point where you're actually trying to conserve energy throughout a start.

"I mean that's the difference between pitching in cold weather and warm weather, is warm weather, you're trying to conserve your tank for as long as you can," he continued. "Whereas when you're in cold weather, you've got to put in so much effort into every single pitch because your body, it's just not warm."

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