Max Scherzer after simulated game: 'I'm ready to get in a game'

Chris Lingebach
August 14, 2019 - 3:09 pm

Nationals ace Max Scherzer says he's ready to pitch again after missing the past three weeks with an upper back strain.

After throwing a simulated game on Tuesday, the following day – Wednesday – was the true test for Scherzer to see if his back flared up again.

"Yesterday went well. I was able to obviously get two innings, and start facing hitters and go through the normal start routine," Scherzer told reporters Wednesday. "Got a chance to test it and everything felt good yesterday. But more importantly, it was how I felt today.

"That's been the biggest challenge in all of this. That's why this has been so tricky. It hasn't been the day that I've actually pitched, because when I've taken the mound, I'm going at full tilt with normal velocity. It's the day after that's really been the tricky thing in all of this and that's why I've been scratching my head left and right trying to figure this thing out."

"But I was able to come in today. I felt good," Scherzer said. "I was able to go out there and play catch, pretty much at the intensity I thought I was gonna be able to play catch at today, given that I threw a sim game yesterday. So, for me, I want to get in a game now. I'm ready to get in a game. I'm looking forward to pitch."

Scherzer's last start came on July 25 against Colorado, and it was after that game that the rhomboid muscle in Scherzer's upper back tightened up again. This was a unique injury to Scherzer. Never before in his 12-year MLB career had Scherzer returned from the Injured List only to suffer that same ailment again.

Scherzer's twice gone on the Injured List this July, with the injury first cropping up after a July 6 start against Kansas City. The All-Star break afforded him some cover to heal up discreetly, but he would ultimately go 18 days between starts, only to re-injure himself against Colorado, forcing another IL stint. Twenty days have passed since then.

Now that he's ready to pitch, there's little use in wasting valuable Scherzer innings in a rehab start in the minors.

"I want to pitch in the big leagues," Scherzer said. "I think I'm ready to pitch in the big leagues."

Whenever Scherzer takes the mound for the Nationals, he will be under a pitch count, a number he'll reach through consultation with the club's doctors and trainers.

Last week Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said they want to make sure Scherzer's "here for the long term" when they do decide to bring him back.

"We're gonna be careful and cautious with him, but with Max, it's hard to pull him back, and when he's ready to pitch, believe me, we want him on the mound," Rizzo told The Sports Junkies. "But when he comes back, we want him here for the long term, and we're going to be cognizant of that and make sure that he's ready to go and not kind of feel anything when he's pitching."

Scherzer was adamant that he intends for the next time he throws to be in a big league game.

"I've thrown a pen, threw in a sim game. The pitches feel there," he said. "Throwing a bullpen's not gonna do any difference. You just gotta get in a game to get a feel for everything."

Asked if Thursday will be a regular side session, Scherzer confidently said, "No. I'm good to go."

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