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Scherzer on track to return Friday vs. Harvey

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Scherzer on track to return Friday vs. Harvey

ATLANTA — Max Scherzer was able to throw off a bullpen mound Tuesday with no issues, putting the Nationals ace on track to start Friday night against Matt Harvey and the Mets at Citi Field.

Scherzer, who was originally scheduled to pitch Tuesday but was pushed back with a sprained ligament in his right thumb, crossed his biggest remaining hurdle when he threw a full bullpen session at Turner Field and reported no pain with any of his pitches.

“I was able to get off the mound today and throw all my pitches at 100 percent,” Scherzer said. “I’m good to go.”

Scherzer typically throws a bullpen session three days before he starts, so this puts him on track to start Friday night in New York. The Nationals will wait to make sure he feels fine Wednesday before finalizing that plan.

“Given this location of the injury, you can have lingering effects from after pitching on it, so I’ve got to see how I feel tomorrow,” Scherzer said. “If I am compensating for any of those pitches, it’s going to come through and I’m going to feel some tightness, probably my forearm would be the most likely location if there is anything I’m compensating for. I don’t anticipate that. I anticipate feeling good for Wednesday … and I’m ready to get back into a game.”

Scherzer would slot back into the Nationals’ rotation in a new spot, between Stephen Strasburg (who starts Thursday) and Gio Gonzalez (who would be bumped a day and start Saturday). That would line him up to face Harvey in a high-profile showdown between the struggling Nationals and the surprising, first-place Mets.

Scherzer, who hurt himself at the plate last week when he was jammed by an inside pitch, was asked if he’ll have any concerns hitting moving forward.

“Yes and no,” he replied.” Obviously, once you have this injury, it’s there. Like I said, I’m clearing it up. I’m getting better. Definitely looking to be wearing a thumb guard next time, to say the least.”

Scherzer became the subject of a mini controversy over the last 48 hours when he was quoted by CBSsports.com’s Jon Heyman saying in the wake of his injury and the torn Achilles’ tendon suffered by Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright he “wouldn’t be opposed” to the NL adopting the designated hitter.

“Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper?” Scherzer later was quoted as saying. “Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

That set off some controversy, exacerbated when Giants ace Madison Bumgarner told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News: “Oh, well, my wet newspaper is 34 1/2 inches, 33 1/2 ounces, and I’m waiting on some new ones right now.”

Scherzer issued a lengthy and well-crafted clarification of his stance on Tuesday via his Twitter account.

“Anyone who knows me knows I am an outgoing, fun and jokester kind of guy,” Scherzer wrote.  “I was making an attempt to be funny with those comments and nothing more.”

MORE NATIONALS: Rendon out again, this time with tight side

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.