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.”
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