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Pitcher Max Scherzer 'probably not' starting for Nationals on opening day

Pitcher Max Scherzer 'probably not' starting for Nationals on opening day

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

Opening day is less than three weeks away, but the Washington Nationals have already announced that their ace will not be on the mound. 

Prior to today's spring training game against the Mets, manager Dusty Baker responded when asked if ace Max Scherzer was to start on opening day. "At this point, probably not."

Afterwards, Baker would go on to point out that day two, three and four count as well in the Nationals season. 

Earlier in the off-season, it was announced that Scherzer suffered a stress fracture in the knuckle of his throwing hand ring finger back in August. Playing through the discomfort, the 32-year-old ended the 2016 season winning the 2016 National League Cy Young Award.

This injury would go on to prevent the nine-year-veteran from playing in the World Baseball Classic and have him assigned to a handful of minor league starts before Washington officially starts their's.

Last season, Scherzer went 20-7 as a starter and led the NL with 284 strikeouts and a 0.968 WHIP. The Nationals’ ace was also the first pitcher with 20 wins, 250 strikeouts and a sub-.200 BAA (batting average against) since Bob Gibson in 1968, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Stephen Strasburg, would be the next pitcher expected to make the start on opening day. In his first seven years in the majors, Strasburg has battled injuries, year after year.  He missed the final month of 2016 and finished with a 15-4 season due to a strained flexor mass. 

MORE NATIONALS: Bryce Harper looks dominant in spring training

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Gerardo Parra visits Children's Hospital, signs 'Baby Shark' gear

Gerardo Parra visits Children's Hospital, signs 'Baby Shark' gear

With Game 1 of the World Series set for Houston on Tuesday, the Nationals had limited free time in the District.

But that didn't stop Gerardo Parra on using his last free day to visit pediatric cancer patients with his wife, Tania, and the Nats mascot, Screech, at Children's National Hospital.

Parra and company handed out, what else, plush Baby Sharks to the patients, a nod to Parra's new walk-up song and Nats fans new anthem that has provided plenty of shark-clapping in arenas across DC and has even made its way to a local orchestra

"Any time we have a chance to come here, I wanna come," Parra said of the visit. "I think the more important (thing) is the Baby Shark bring a lot of smile to the kids. So when I come here today, we see everybody when taking the Baby Shark happy, like smiling, dance to the Baby Shark, that's the point."

Parra also handed out "Stay in the Fight" t-shirts to parents and kids, an ode to the Nats' slogan throughout their playoff run.

Clearly, there will be some Baby Shark chomping action coming from Children's Hospital this World Series.

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St. Louis therapy dog makes good on NLCS wager, reps Nationals gear

St. Louis therapy dog makes good on NLCS wager, reps Nationals gear

Friendly wagers are one of the best parts of sports. They're even more fun when they involve two very good boys. 

Thor, a black lab therapy dog from Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, challenged Tabby, a German Shepherd therapy dog at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., to a friendly bet on the Nats-Cardinals NLCS best of seven series. The bet was settled not too long after it began.

Since the Nationals swept the Cardinals, Thor had to wear a Nationals' bandana to work, courtesy of Tabby.

Thor does not look very amused, but at least he was a very good sport.

Hopefully, Thor will decide to cheer on the Nationals in their first-ever World Series against the Astros!

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