Max Scherzer took the step he needed to as he rehabbed from the scapulothoracic bursitis that landed him on the Injured List, throwing off the mound in Nationals Park on Monday for the first time after he threw on flat ground over the last few days.
Scherzer talked to reporters on Monday afternoon about clearing the final hurdle he had to before he and the Nats could think about sending the ace back out in live action.
“Got off the mound, did a full bullpen,” Scherzer said. “Everything feels good. Ball is coming out of my hand exactly the way it should feel like at 100%, so I’ve been wanting the ball, so I want the ball, so hopefully I can pitch here really soon.”
“I heard it went really well also,” manager Davey Martinez said, “so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and then we’ll go from there, but if he feels good then he’ll pitch at the end of this week somewhere.”
Scherzer, who’d described himself as pulling his own hair out waiting for the cortisone shot he took to alleviate the discomfort a few days earlier, is anxious to return to the rotation.
“Really anxious,” he said before the official announcement that he’d return this week barring any setbacks. “I really want to get going.”
“The sooner the better, hopefully — that’s their call. But hopefully sooner the better.”
Martinez and Co. apparently decided on Thursday’s game for the 34-year-old right-hander’s return to the rotation, announcing the decision in his pregame press conference before the first game of the four-game series with the Colorado Rockies last night.
“He felt good today,” the second-year skipper said.
“He did his regular routine. So he’s scheduled to pitch Thursday if everything goes well.”
The decision to go in the series finale with the Rockies, as opposed to the series opener with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, was made after a look at the schedule and how Scherzer would line up pitching once every five games, and they liked the idea of having him go up against the NL East’s first-place Atlanta Braves in each of the remaining series between the two teams and once against the Philadelphia Phillies.
How far ahead did they look when making the decision?
“I went all the way to the Wild Card game,” Martinez said with a laugh, though the Nationals are indeed currently leading the NL Wild Card race.
Not they’re taking anything for granted or anything, but why not plan ahead if you can, with full understanding of what they say about how the best-laid plans gang aft agley.