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Report: Max Scherzer among star MLB players who held secret Florida practices

Report: Max Scherzer among star MLB players who held secret Florida practices

As the coronavirus pandemic put the MLB season on hold and tensions grew between the owners and players union, it became increasingly clear that it was going to take a while before baseball returns. So in order to stay in shape, a group of MLB players that included Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Giancarlo Stanton and Paul Goldschmidt got together with a trainer in Florida and began holding secret practice.

The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli reported Thursday that a group of more than 30 major leaguers banded together in Palm Beach and practiced together before holding a pair of sandlot games in June that would’ve been as competitive as any All-Star Game.

Players got their first taste of playing while practicing social distancing, frequently changing out balls and banning sliding into bases. The mastermind behind the plan was New York Yankees trainer Eric Cressey, who compared the practices to “Fight Club” and said some players called it “prohibition baseball.”

RELATED: MAX SCHERZER TALKS 'UGLY' NEGOTIATIONS AND 'CRAZY' MLB SEASON AHEAD

Nationals starters Austin Voth and Kyle McGowin joined Scherzer as the Nationals’ representatives in a a group that also reportedly included Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard (recovering from Tommy John), Logan Morrison, Luke Jackson, Richard Bleier, Robert Gsellman, Michael Wacha, Jesús Luzardo and Brad Hand. Even NFL players such as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett and free agent punter Matt Bosher were at the facility.

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Scherzer, who was living with his own personal bullpen catcher in Orioles backstop Bryan Holaday, kept busy as a member of the eight-player MLBPA executive subcommittee. He reported to Nationals Park on Wednesday before the start of Spring Training 2.0—or Summer Camp, as some have called it.

The season is set to begin July 23-24, with the Nationals reportedly facing the New York Yankees on Opening Day in a game that would pit Scherzer against $324 million man Gerrit Cole.

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Juan Soto’s titanic home run helps Nationals finally find some offense

Juan Soto’s titanic home run helps Nationals finally find some offense

Reprieves are rarely handed over in Major League Baseball. The day-after-day evolution of a season usually doesn’t leave room for an unearned break. It has to be captured.

Finally, the Nationals found a path to a giddy break Monday night in a 16-4 exhale against the Mets. It snapped a three-game losing streak. It also snapped a glaring inability to score runs early in the season.

Washington brought the worst offense in the major leagues to Citi Field for a four-game series against the Mets. They scored just 35 runs in 11 total games prior, and nine runs in seven losses. The Nationals went from 29th in total runs (they were only ahead of St. Louis, which has played five games this season) at the start of the day to 26th by the end.

RELATED: DAVEY MARTINEZ GIVES PIGGYBACK RIDE TO HELP ASDRUBAL CABRERA CELEBRATE HR

Asdrúbal Cabrera homered twice. Juan Soto hit a home run so far into center field it cleared the Big Apple and stunned Mets announcer Ron Darling. It went 463 feet. Soto said he watched the ball fly out of the park to see if it would land in the metal apple.

“I see it, and it was way far,” Soto said with a laugh.

The pitch was a 77-mph curveball from left-hander Steven Matz. Soto was hitless (0-for-5) against left-handed pitchers coming into the game. He hit Matz’s curveball 108.6 mph to dead center field where only the apple and black tarps reside. Darling said he’s never seen a ball hit to that spot prior.

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Yan Gomes picked up his first two hits of the season on Monday. Cabrera now has three home runs and is hitting .357 (sample-size warning, of course). Soto is hitting .444 since rejoining the team Aug. 5.

Trea Turner also went 3-for-5. He and Adam Eaton have done little at the top of the Nationals lineup to start the season, to the point Eaton was given Monday off against a left-handed starter. Josh Harrison took his place in right field and in the No. 2 spot in the order.

“It’s fun to see the boys break out of it,” Davey Martinez said.

However, this remains a one-game sample size. It’s not consistency, it’s not what the rest of the season has been about, it’s no guarantee of what will happen Tuesday night. But at least it’s a start.

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Nationals manager Davey Martinez gives piggyback ride to help Asdrúbal Cabrera celebrate 2nd homer

Nationals manager Davey Martinez gives piggyback ride to help Asdrúbal Cabrera celebrate 2nd homer

Davey Martinez has a new job: piggyback ride.

Asdrúbal Cabrera hopped on the Nationals manager Monday night following his second home run of the evening. Cabrera took a ride through a jubilant dugout in what became a rout for the struggling Nationals.

Cabrera homered twice Monday.

The idea was also partially a troll of a new member of the Mets, Brian Dozier. Dozier would hop on stout batting practice pitcher Ali Modami following a home run last season and ride through the dugout. Modami opted out of this season.

RELATED: TWITTER HAS FUN AT METS EXPENSE

The Nationals finally had something to dance about in the dugout after scoring 16 runs Monday night in Citi Field. They are 5-7 on the season.

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