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Nats' Scherzer loves facing aces both as a pitcher and a hitter

Nats' Scherzer loves facing aces both as a pitcher and a hitter

When Max Scherzer signed a seven-year free agent contract with the Nats two offseasons ago, he returned to the National League, and part of that bargain meant he had to hit again. Scherzer began his career in the NL with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but spent five years with the Detroit Tigers in the American League before coming to Washington.

Hitting is not easy for pitchers. Only few are good at it. Scherzer may fall in that category, as his .217 average in 2015 ranked fourth among pitchers with at least 40 at-bats. 

But even if they aren't good at hitting, there are other things that pitchers can draw out of the experience. Stepping into the box gives pitchers a perspective that can't be recreated on film or in scouting reports. 

"There's different things that you see from other guys that you get to see firsthand," Scherzer said. "That when you talk about executing pitches in certain locations, you get to really feel that execution."

Since joining the Nats, Scherzer has faced some of baseball's top pitchers from Jose Fernandez to Zack Greinke to Noah Syndergaard. Before landing in D.C. he saw Chris Carpenter, Clayton Kershaw and Randy Johnson.

"You realize when you face those guys what a good slider looks like and how demoralizing it is to swing at. Honestly, you get a feel when you face guys like that for what pitching up in the zone really does. You get to see the life on the baseball and see how hard it is to catch up to it, and as a hitter how good it looks," Scherzer explained.

There have been times where Scherzer's seen something during an at-bat that took him by surprise. He's seen breaking balls and fastballs that have blown him away. But, getting into specifics of who to credit and what to give them credit for could cross the line of competition between pitcher to pitcher.

"I want to say it, but I don't want to say it. I don't want to tip my hand," he said with a hearty laugh.

What Scherzer would detail is his approach to pitchers when they stand in the box against him. He doesn't hold anything back and sees no reason to.

"Sometimes with the pitchers you gotta throw them offspeed even more because pitchers, we're terrible at hitting offspeed. We can sometimes find a way to take our slider bat speed and hit a fastball because we sit in the cage and hit fastballs all day, but typically pitchers really struggle against offspeed. So, if you see us throwing offspeed to a pitcher and you may wonder why not the fastball, it's because they really can't hit an offspeed pitch. I don't care if he can time up a fastball, anybody can time up a fastball. It's really, really hard to hit offspeed at this level."

Hitting has added a different element to Scherzer's life in the majors. Still, Scherzer loves going up against other top starters as a pitcher.

"You look forward to those matchups. You don't get to measure yourself, but it's one of those things where you just love to compete. I love to compete against the best. When you're going up against the elite guys in the game, you just want to beat them. You want to go out there and outpitch them and just compete against them," he said. 

"Those games sometimes are the most fun because it brings the best out of me. I know when I was pitching in the AL, going up against Chris Sale, I threw my first complete game in a game I was going against him because I knew I had to bring my A-game that day. I knew I had to pitch deep into that game, that I had to do everything. Because look, this is how it is. You're facing the best. You've gotta pitch your best. Sometimes they bring the best out of you and force you to do everything a little bit better."

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE