Max Scherzer was devastated that a nerve issue that cropped up in his neck before Game 5 of the World Series ended up being so bad that he wasn’t able to take the mound. Joe Ross started in his place, in what ended up a 7-1 loss which left the Washington Nationals on the brink of elimination, down 3-2 to the Houston Astros in the best-of-seven series.
“I feel so bad for that man,” teammate Adam Eaton told reporters when he spoke with the press prior to Game 6 of the Fall Classic in Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
“You want to talk about a guy that absolutely puts everything in his work, into just his life of just baseball. I don’t know how he’s ever going to function outside of baseball because he’s literally part of baseball in the sense of how he -- everything he does is wrapped around his starts, his work.”
“And it’s, just like I said, my heart goes out to him,” Eaton continued. “My heart hurts for him. Like we’ve discussed many times before, we’re a family here, and we truly believe that.
“All of us guys know that if he could take the ball in any way, shape or form, he would. Sad to see it. Like I said, our heart goes out to him.”
Scherzer received a cortisone shot on Sunday, with doctors telling him that it would take in the neighborhood of 48 hours to know if it is effective, with second-year Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez confirming as much.
“Yeah, my understanding, it takes about 24 hours for this injection to really work,” Martinez said on Monday. “So we’re going to try to give it 24 hours.
“As we all know Max, he’s probably going to try to push it a little bit. But we want him to just try to let this medication kick in a little bit and then see where we’re at.”
Reports from Minute Maid Park before Game 6, however, had Scherzer out throwing in the outfield, and when he was done he told reporters, “I’m good.”
Good enough to go if there ends up being a Game 7? Martinez was asked this afternoon if Scherzer would get the nod if they’re able to beat the Astros to get to a decisive seventh game.
“As of right now, yes,” Martinez said. “I think he talked to some of you guys already. He gave you a thumbs up, didn’t he?”
“He said he’s good,” reporters told the Nationals’ manager.
“He’s good. He threw. He felt good. We’ll see what transpires between now and tonight. But he says he feels good. So, yeah, as of right now he’ll definitely start Game 7.”
Considering how Scherzer looked, his body language, and what he had to say on Sunday, and the fact that a player as driven as he is determined he couldn’t go, it’s a big change.
What did transpired over the last two days that has him available if the Nationals can get there?
“He couldn’t do anything for 24 hours,” Martinez said. “He definitely flew with us. We put him in a neck brace. We sat him up in first class, so he had a lot of room. So he woke up today, wanted to throw. Came out and threw flat ground. He let it air out and he said he felt good. Right now, like I said, we’re at the point now where let’s see how he feels in the next couple of hours. I just left him. I think he was doing a crossword puzzle right now and getting ready to do some treatment.”
What did the manager see from Scherzer when he was throwing in the outfield in Houston?
“Today, he looked normal. Just like any other day he throws flat ground. He looked really good. Hoping, like I said, hoping he progresses from here to tomorrow. My guess is he comes out tomorrow and he’s going to get prepared like he prepares [for] any other game and he’s ready to go and you’re going to see Max be Max.”
Scherzer expressed concern on Sunday that if he did try to go ahead, he could do long-term damage, but it wasn’t a consideration because at that point he couldn’t lift his arm.
What, given all that’s happened in the last few days, would be a realistic expectation for him in a potential Game 7?
“Like I said, we’ll -- if you know Max like I know Max, everything is -- he’s got to look at the whole big picture. He feels good today. And that’s all I know,” Martinez said. “So we’ll see, and we’ll determine how he feels come tomorrow.”
“If Max tells me tonight that he’s good then Max will pitch until his neck decides he can’t pitch anymore,” Martinez added.
“I can’t see myself telling Max, you’re only going to go 75 pitches. He’s going to want to go out there and go as long as he can.”
If he actually does end up getting to start in Game 7 of the World Series, given all that he’s been through?
“They’d probably make a movie about it, I bet, if he could,” Eaton said. “He could come back from the dead.
“Like I said, we’ll -- again, I have no speculation, but I’m telling you if he [in] any way, shape or form could take the ball he will.
“But like I said, I don’t know -- I’ve talked to him briefly, just giving my condolences to him. Because like I said, I know he’s more disappointed than he’s ever been in his entire life not to be able to take the ball. But like I said, if there’s an opportunity to do it, it would be pretty sweet, honestly. I think guys would really feed off it.”