Nats’ Max Scherzer to face Astros in exhibition opener
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The World Series rematch between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, who’ve been embroiled in the fallout from a sign-stealing scandal, that will open the teams’ exhibition schedule Saturday just got a little more interesting: Max Scherzer will be on the mound.
After his initial batting practice of spring training Wednesday, Scherzer said he’s “right on target” and “threw just enough pitches — just right — to be able to get back out here in a couple days when the games start up.”
When Washington manager Dave Martinez was told that his three-time Cy Young Award winner made clear to reporters he would be starting against Houston, the skipper joked: “Of course. He’s doing my job.”
“Can feel the shoulder is a little tired,” Scherzer said. “Right where you want it.”
So, Max, it’s good to feel tired?
“In spring training, you have to put yourself through some fatigue. That’s good for you. That’s when you know you’re pushing the limit in how you’re building up,” he said.
“Understanding that process of spring training over the years, I know exactly where I need to be,” said Scherzer, entering his 13th season in the majors, “and I’m exactly where I need to be.”
The key, he explained, is that any soreness be in his right shoulder, as opposed to anywhere else.
“I’m sore in all the right spots. We joke about that during the year — the different spots. You can be sore and that’s actually good,” Scherzer said. “But when you’re sore in a spot where you’re not familiar with it, that’s when it gets dangerous.”
Scherzer went on the injured list twice because of an upper back issue in 2019, making fewer than 30 starts in a year for the first time since his first season in the majors. Then he was scratched from Game 5 of the World Series because of a neck problem before making it back to the mound for Washington’s Game 7 win at Houston.
Martinez said Scherzer “looked like Max” out there Wednesday, with no remnants of those health issues.
“The last few (pitches), he really aired out,” Martinez said. “And he looked good.”
Notes: Martinez discussed the lineup options he’s considering, including dropping SS Trea Turner down to third in the order and moving CF Victor Robles all the way up to the leadoff spot, with RF Adam Eaton between them — all in front of cleanup batter Juan Soto. “Could you imagine having (Robles)-Eaton-Turner-Soto?” Martinez said. “I think that’s pretty dynamic. But we’ve got tons of time.”