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Scherzer doubtful for Tuesday's start

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Scherzer doubtful for Tuesday's start

Updated at 5:03 p.m.

MIAMI — The odds of Max Scherzer making his scheduled start Tuesday night in Atlanta look slim after the Nationals ace was unable to throw Sunday morning without feeling discomfort in his right thumb, which he suggested is the byproduct of a sprained ligament.

Scherzer, who jammed the thumb while hitting during his Thursday start in Washington, threw on flat ground in the outfield at Marlins Park on Sunday morning and noted his thumb remained sore, though better than he expected.

Asked if he thinks he'll be able to start Tuesday against the Braves, the right-hander sounded pessimistic.

"I can't say that, because I'm literally day-to-day," he said. "I'm not ready to rule it out completely, but I also have to be honest with myself. Anytime you deal with an injury to your pitching hand, you literally have to be 100 percent to go back out there."

Speaking in the dugout a few minutes after he threw, Scherzer referred at different times to a "sprain" and to "ligaments," suggesting the injury is more severe than mild inflammation. He was adamant throughout that he'll err on the side of caution, not wanting to risk a more serious arm injury while compensating for the thumb ailment.

"I've dealt with an injury before in college where I had a cut on my middle finger, and I went back out there and pitched in pain," he said. "And two weeks later, I had biceps tendinitis and really almost kind of messed up my shoulder. I really respect the fact that you really have to be 100 percent to go back out there. And in this case, that's how I'm going to treat it."

Scherzer has not yet thrown off a bullpen mound, as he normally would between starts, but he said he doesn't necessarily need to do that before pitching in a game again. He does need to be able to throw all his pitches on flat ground with no pain, though, which means he would need to cross that hurdle Monday to have any chance of starting Tuesday.

"It's my pitching hand," he said. "Any type of discomfort's going to alter the way I throw the ball. If I alter the way I throw the ball, I can really run the risk of major injury to my arm. So I really respect that. I really respect that I have to be at 100 percent. That'll be my test: If I can throw all my pitches on flat ground at 100 percent."

Assuming Scherzer doesn't heal in time, the Nationals will have to decide how to proceed, both in the short- and possibly long-term. If they believe Scherzer will be ready in a matter of days, they could try to piece together Tuesday's game with relievers, then insert him back into the rotation.

"We'll probably have to make an adjustment on Tuesday; we don't know exactly who that is yet," manager Matt Williams said following Sunday's loss. "We'll get through tomorrow's game and see where we're at, but there are options for us.

One potential problem with a bullpen game is the fact none of the Nationals' current relievers has been stretched out to throw more than perhaps three innings at a time. Tanner Roark, the obvious rotation replacement candidate, hasn't thrown more than 12 pitches in any of his last three appearances.

If the Nationals choose to call up a starter from Class AAA Syracuse, the most likely option would be right-hander A.J. Cole, who is currently scheduled to start Monday and thus would only need to be pushed back one day. That move, though, would require somebody being removed from the current big-league roster, whether a reliever being demoted or Scherzer being placed on the 15-day DL.

For now, the Nationals don't expect Scherzer to be out that long.

"I don't know if Max is going to make this one," Williams said. "But I would not anticipate at this point — pending further evaluation, further days — that he'd miss a second one. But we'll see."

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Nationals extend protective foul ball netting

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Nationals extend protective foul ball netting

The Washington Nationals will become the latest MLB team to extend their protective netting down the first and third base lines, team owner Mark Lerner announced on Thursday. A new netting will be installed at Nationals Park during the MLB All-Star break. 

The new netting will extend from the end of the dugout, where they currently end, and go to the left and right field corners. It will be designed with certain sections that can be raised to allow for fan interaction before the games. 

In his announcement, Lerner stated "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

This announcement comes fresh off the heels of a national conversation about the importance of netting in ballparks and more that needs to be done to protect the fans. As Lerner referenced, a young fan was hit by a foul ball during an Astros-Cubs matchup in May. The girl was rushed to the hospital and left those in attendance paralyzed in shock, especially Cub Albert Almora Jr. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he did not expect the league to step in this season for a league-wide change. However, he did mention that it would continue to be discussed and stressed the importance of fan safety. 

As a result, some teams are taking matters into their own hands. The Chicago White Sox became the first team to announce an extension of their current protective netting to the foul poles. 

Preceding the White Sox announcement, both Chicago and the Nationals experienced a traumatic foul ball situation. Chicago's Eloy Jimenez ripped a foul ball down the line and hit an unsuspecting fan.  

The first game with the new netting with be on Monday, July 22 against the Colorado Rockies. 

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How to celebrate the ultimate D.C. sports day of the summer

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How to celebrate the ultimate D.C. sports day of the summer

Summertime; the time of year when you only look at your calendar to make sure you haven’t double-booked yourself for your ritual weekend brunches, or the time of year you exhaust every vacation day you’ve stored up over the course of the year to get the kids somewhere near their grandparents so you can continue to work on that ever-elusive summer dad-bod. Either one is a win in my book.

Summer also gives birth to one of the rare occasions when there can be three to four different DC-sports related activities all occurring within the same 24-hour timeframe. Thursday, June 20, is THAT day!

Who’s playing? Is there a chance I can attend the game? If not, how do you watch them all? These burning questions are about to be answered faster than you can ride down the escalator at the Pentagon City Metro Station…I think. So, let’s hurry and get started.

We’ll run through these one at a time, in chronological order!

Event 1: Soccer: 3 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

The US Women’s National Team takes the pitch against Sweden as they look to continue their international dominance in the Women’s World Cup. And yes, it’s DC team because we’re the nation’s Capital.

2.       Reason to watch/attend?

These women are the best Soccer players on the planet; having showcased their proficiency for many years on the world stage. Remember they put up 13 against Thailand in their first match! Don’t miss an opportunity to witness history in the making.  

3.       How to watch/attend?

You can either pull up to Dulles and jump on the next flight to France, or you can be like the rest of us Super-geniuses and tune in at 3 p.m. to watch it from the comfort of your favorite Soccer bar. Make sure to buy a round for anyone rocking a USWNT jersey; #OneNationOneTeam. USA, USA, USA!!!

Event 2: Baseball: 7 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

 The Washington Nationals are wrapping up a 4-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

This is the last day of Bryce Harper in THIS city until September. HALLELUJAH! 

3.       How to watch/attend?

First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. so you can either slide by the park and enjoy the smorgasbord of delicacies offered at Nats park, or you can tune in on the tube. I suggest hitting the park and booing Harper until you lose your voice! Tell your boss it’s my fault you’re hoarse. It won’t be the first time someone did that.

Event 3:  Football: 7 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

The Washington Valor are back home in Capital One Arena for another chapter in their I-95 battle with their rivals the Baltimore Brigade.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

 The Valor won the AFL XXXI crown against the Brigade, on their home field. Baltimore hasn’t forgotten that sting in the least bit. Plus, COA has a wicked Bud Light Party Zone where you can catch unlimited beer and perhaps a football from the field. If you haven't seen and AFL game in person, then you're missing out on some really fun action. They even let you down on the field after the game for autographs and pics with the players.

3.       How to watch/attend?

 Kickoff is at 7 p.m. whether you’re at the Arena or not. Since the Nats game is at the same time, you may have to decide which game to see in person and which one to stream on your phone. Hint: the Valor game is on NBC Sports Washington so there’s that. And, if the Nats game gets rained out, then problem solved and see you in the party zone! 

Event 4: Basketball(NBA): 8 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

 NOBODY, derp! But, it’s the NBA draft and frankly put, I couldn’t be more excited it’s finally here.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

 This is the first official activation in the post-Grunfeld era for the Wizards. More importantly, this will be the first chance for Wiz fans to wrap their minds around the new direction the team will be taking. Optimism starts here!

3.       How to watch/attend?

Unless you feel like traveling to see the Draft in person, I highly suggest you tune in to NBC Sports Washington for full draft coverage on ‘Wizards on the Clock’ starting at 6:30 p.m.  In my humble opinion, you won’t find better comprehensive coverage. You can watch on TV or via the MyTeams App while you’re at the Nats game booing Bryce if you’re slick with multi-tasking.

Event 4: Basketball(WNBA): 10 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

 Your Washington Mystics are out in Sin City to take on the Las Vegas Aces. Note: Bill Laimbeer sighting!

2.       Reason to watch/attend?

 The Aces sit atop the Western Conference with Australian native Liz Cambage (she can BALL) holding down the paint. It’s going to be a good test for the Mystics and you’ll get a chance to see how unrelentingly talented Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, and crew really are. Buckets, the Mystics get buckets!

3.       How to watch/attend?

I know the temptation to hit Vegas is rising by the moment but fret not. You can save a ton of money and possibly help your best bud save his fragile relationship by staying in DC and catching the game at 10 p.m. on Monumental Sports Network/NBC Sports Washington.

Now you know how to do it while maintaining some semblance of sanity, and you can even keep a running tab on who’s been the most DC among your friends. I’m certain we’ll have another opportunity for this phenomenon when Fall comes back around, but for now, let’s all enjoy the summer and all the games therein!