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Max Scherzer plays catch; hamstring 'tweaked' not strained

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USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer plays catch; hamstring 'tweaked' not strained

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer bounded up the stairs from the dugout to the field on his way to his usual post-start catch Sunday, the white compression sleeve on his right leg the only indication that he was dealing with what the two-time Cy Young Award winner said an MRI exam showed was a "tweaked" hamstring.

Scherzer left his last regular-season start after only 3 1/3 innings on Saturday night after feeling something in his hamstring while throwing a changeup. The club sent Scherzer for an MRI as a precaution.

"Showed exactly what we thought: Nothing major. More of a tool to help know how we need to treat it. We have a pretty good idea of what we need to be able to do to get back out there. The good news thing about this is, I can walk and run around on this. It's not a major strain or anything, where it's debilitating," Scherzer said Sunday in the home clubhouse at Nationals Park. "So I'm pretty upbeat and positive about going forward here."

What he would not do is weigh in on whether he would pitch Friday in Game 1 or Saturday in Game 2 of NL East champion Washington's NL Division Series against the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals have not said whether Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg is their planned Game 1 starter.

"It's tough to say right now, when we're not even 24 hours out" from the leg problem surfacing, Scherzer said. "We're still trying to get all the doctors to take a look at this and make sure that we have the absolutely correct diagnosis. But we have a really, really good idea of what we've got here."

Scherzer, who won the NL Cy Young Award last season to go with his 2013 AL honor for Detroit, is a contender again this season. He leads the NL in strikeouts with 268 and his 2.51 ERA is second to Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer finished with a 16-6 record.

"It's never good when your ace walks off the mound in the fourth inning of the second-to-last game of the season," Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said, "but he feels optimistic about it."

This is the latest health issues in 2017 for Scherzer, who spent time on the disabled list in August with a neck problem and left a start in early September after a batted ball struck his left calf.

"Frustrating as all get-out. I've done such a good job of taking care of my body over the course of my career and have never come out of starts, and this year I think I've come out of three. That's frustrating for me, because I always take pride in pitching deep into games and taking the ball every fifth day," said Scherzer, who bounced on his toes in the clubhouse to show reporters his leg felt fine. "Unfortunately, some of these injuries are out of my control right now. Because I'm doing everything I can to stay out there on the mound and to try to be healthy, but unfortunately, I've got a few ailments."

NOTE: RHP Shawn Kelley said that no decision has been made on how to treat the bone chips in his right elbow that limited the range of motion in his pitching arm even more than it already was after two Tommy John surgeries. In addition, he said Sunday, he "started having sensations in my hand and numbness and tingling and stuff." An operation is a possibility. "We're still waiting to consult with people and try to get the best plan of attack," said Kelley, who went on the 60-day disabled list Saturday. "Obviously, I've got a special case with my elbow. It's very fragile."

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT