Max Scherzer tossed three innings in a Minor League game this afternoon, throwing 54 pitches, 35 for strikes according to reports from West Palm Beach, Florida’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Until this point, it had only been live BP and simulated games for the 32-year-old, 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner, who was also throwing a three-finger fastball while working his way back from a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger.
“Everything felt good,” Scherzer told reporters after today’s outing.
“Finger felt good. Even was back to the two-finger grip, so that’s the really good news out of today and everything felt good on the off-speed pitches.”
Scherzer retired the first three batters he faced in order then struggled in a 30-pitch second in which he gave up two hits, two walks and two runs. He returned for a third, scoreless inning of work before he was done for the day.
“Really was able to get my work in today and even had to battle through some stuff, so that’s great, to be able to get that type of work in,” Scherzer said.
He also seemed happy to be able to ditch the three-finger grip on his fastball.
“It’s good to be back to the normal grip,” Scherzer said.
“From here on out I’ll obviously be progressing that way and now dialing it in, trying to hit locations and really try to pitch with a fastball again. Now I feel back.”
While he “feels” back, Scherzer is still behind in his progression towards the start of his third season in the nation’s capital.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker was asked this morning if he thought Scherzer, who started the season-opener in each of the last two seasons, would be ready for Opening Day.
“At this point, probably not,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“We’re just trying to get Max on the field,” Baker told reporters after this afternoon’s Grapefruit League win over the New York Mets.
“Opening Day, I’m sure it’s important to him but not as important as the rest of the season.”
The next step for Scherzer? Pitching Coach Mike Maddux said the the Nationals’ ace will make his Grapefruit League debut:
Maddux said Scherzer will pitch in a Grapefruit League game in six days.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 16, 2017
Mike Maddux said Max Scherzer will start a Grapefruit League game Wednesday vs STL. We'll take the training wheels off."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) March 16, 2017