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Max Scherzer at 90% as Washington Nationals wait for the ace to return...

Will Max Scherzer be ready to go during the series with the Braves in SunTrust Park? When he’s 100%, he’ll come off the IL... but not until then.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past Wednesday about the status of 34-year-old Nats’ ace Max Scherzer, who ended up on the Injured List on July 13th (retroactive to July 10th) when a mid-back strain didn’t heal up enough for him to return to the mound.

“We’re going to find out today, he’s going to throw and see where he’s at,” Rizzo said before the finale with the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards.

“He felt a little bit better yesterday in his throwing program, so we’re going to see when we get to the ballpark. I will alert the media as soon as we figure out what the next step is with Max. But if he’s capable of pitching he will. If he’s not, we will save him until he’s ready.

“We’re still in July, and I guarantee you this, if this is September and we needed this win, you couldn’t keep Max off the mound, but sometimes I have to be the adult in the room and just say, ‘Sorry, buddy. Not this time, and we’re going to look at the big picture instead of tonight’s game.”

“Max knows his body very well,” Rizzo added when asked who made the call to put Scherzer on the IL, “and he’s a very good resource to figure out how well he’s feeling.”

“Remember, he had to back out of the All-Star Game because of the back, and he was just incapable of pitching the way that Max Scherzer pitches, so we all decided to put him on the IL.”

Scherzer threw again in Atlanta before the series opener with the Braves last night, and the MASN cameras caught the right-hander seemingly grimacing as he dealt with discomfort.

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez talked in his pregame press conference in SunTrust Park about the progress the three-time Cy Young award-winner made as he tried to get back in time to face the Braves on Sunday, while noting, as Rizzo said, that they were not going to rush him back.

“The thing with me is make sure that he’s 100%,” Martinez explained.

“It was something we talked about today, I talked with him, he’s got to feel 100% before he goes back out there, so he feels good, he says he’s close, and we’ll just see how he feels tomorrow.”

“He said he’s about 90%, so he’s coming,” the manager added. “And I told him, I said, ‘That’s great.’ Let’s keep progressing and going in the right direction.”

Martinez acknowledged, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that it was a fight to keep the starter off the mound while they wait for him to return to full strength.

“You know how Max is,” Martinez said. “This is really, really bothering him right now, that he missed a start already. So I’m fighting with the competitive nature of Max. But we need to do what’s best, not only for him but for the organization, too. You have to explain to him: There’s a lot of baseball left, and we need you for the long haul.”

The next step, if he’s up to it, is a move to the bullpen mound after throwing on flat ground each of the last three days.

“If he feels up to it, we’ll see probably, hopefully tomorrow that he goes out there in the bullpen and does his regular bullpen,” Martinez said.

If not, the Nationals will have to fill that spot in the rotation again as they wait for their ace to get back to 100%.