Both Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez were fairly cautious after the right-hander’s return to the rotation on Thursday, explaining that the test for the 34-year-old right-hander would be how he felt coming out of the game, since he’d first felt discomfort following his outing against the Detroit Tigers on June 30th.
Scherzer made one start after that, throwing seven scoreless against Kansas City in which he struck out 11 batters, but the discomfort returned after that appearance, and he ended up on the 10-Day Injured List after rest during the All-Star Break failed to alleviate the issue which was originally described as a mid-back strain but was eventually diagnosed as what Scherzer told reporters was “scapulothoracic bursitis,” joking that he had to look it up and read about it after he was told what it was.
Scherzer was out of action from July 6th through the 25th (with the Break accounting for some of that time), but he was seemingly 100% at that point, so he was reinstated and he took the mound against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, going five innings overall and throwing 86 pitches while giving up four hits, two walks, and three earned runs in an 8-7 loss in which he received no decision.
Scherzer said he felt good on the mound, though the command wasn’t quite there after he took three weeks off, but it wasn’t the results he was concerned with after the outing.
“I’m more concerned about — with the back tomorrow. When that onset [of the issue] came, [it came] on the next day, so I won’t know anything until tomorrow.”
“We had Max 85-90 pitches today,” Martinez explained, when asked about lifting Scherzer when he did, “and it was perfect. He got, I think, 87, and he was leading off the inning, so I thought it was a perfect time to get him out. So, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Scherzer didn’t feel good when he woke up yesterday.
“I just woke up, and I could feel there was tightness in there,” he explained. “That was the protocol, was, ‘Hey, if you feel tired we’re going to get you an MRI,’ so we went and got an MRI and from there, that’s when we started listing, ‘What can we do to treat this?’ and decided to get over here and get a stem cell shot.”
The official diagnosis this time, MASN’s Mark Zuckerman reported, is a, “‘mild strain’ of his rhomboid muscle above his right shoulder blade.”
The hope, Scherzer explained, is that the shot will help clear things up and he’ll be able to make his next outing against the Atlanta Braves when they arrive in D.C. next week, but he was frustrated with the way things worked out less than 24 hours after he returned to the Nats’ rotation.
“When I’m on the mound and throwing, I don’t feel any pain on the mound. Like every time I play catch, when I’m on the mound, I’m throwing every ball at 100%, and I think the other thing is there’s no second-guessing whatsoever between the whole staff and the doctors,” Scherzer said.
“I was 100% in the bullpen throwing every pitch,” he added. “I was 100% Tuesday, 100% Wednesday, letting the ball eat and felt no pain, so every time I’ve been in that situation I take the ball, so I figured take the ball, I just didn’t recover from this start as well as I thought I was going to recover.”
Scherzer was, obviously, not pleased with this latest development.
“I’m not happy, but on the other hand, we’re talking minor strain. There’s a heck of a lot of other things that could be wrong with your body and arm and shoulder. Those are really - knock on wood - those are the bad stuff,” he said, as quoted by MASN’s Zuckerman.
Martinez once again preached caution as they move forward.
“We’ve got to be smart about this. We’ve got to be smart. Like I said before: We need him for the whole year. We’ll see how he reacts to the shot.”
“He’s aggravated. I told him, ‘Let’s just get you right. When you’re right, you’re one of the best. Let’s get it right this time.’”