Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Friday that as much as he wants Max Scherzer back in the Nats’ rotation, the team is going take things as slowly as necessary to make sure the 35-year-old ace remains on the mound for the rest of the season once he’s back off the Injured List.
Scherzer hasn’t pitched since July 25th, when he tried to come back from three weeks off dealing with scapulothoracic bursitis, and felt discomfort in his back the morning after an outing against the Colorado Rockies and was diagnosed with a mild rhomboid strain.
“He’s a huge part of our team and the rotation, obviously, and we’re gonna get him back out there as soon as humanly possible,” Rizzo explained.
“Max knows his body well, and so when he’s ready to pitch, and throw some bullpens, and kind of finish his progression to return to the mound, we want to run him out there as soon as we can.
“We’re not gonna push him and try and over-stimulate him and make him move too fast, but we’re gonna be careful and cautious with him, but with Max, it’s hard to pull him back, and when he’s ready to pitch, believe me, we want him on the mound, but when he comes back, we want him here for the long term, and we’re going to be cognizant of that and make sure that he’s ready to go and not kind of [feeling] anything when he’s pitching.”
In 20 starts this season, Scherzer is (9-5) with a 2.40 ERA, a 2.08 FIP, 25 walks (1.67 BB/9), 189 Ks (12.66 K/9), and a .215/.262/.341 line against in 134 1⁄3 IP, so the Nationals, battling and trying to catch the Braves in the NL East, and currently atop the National League Wild Card standings, definitely want their ace on the mound.
”I don’t think it’s too much longer, but Max is progressing nicely and we will see where he’s at today, and we’ll take it from there,” Rizzo told the Junkies.
“With him, it really is how he feels day-to-day,” the GM added, “because the back is feeling much, much better now. We just have to make sure we progress him to the right point where he can, like I said, take the ball every five days through the rest of the season and feel good about himself.”
“He’s progressing,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr on Friday night. “He threw again today, light, but if he feels up to it tomorrow, he might throw a bullpen. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
“He’s itching and he wants to get back but we got to be smart,” the second-year manager said.
“I told him, ‘We’re going to make sure you’re right when you come back. Let’s make sure you’re feeling right.’”
Scherzer wanted to throw a bullpen session on Friday, but they held him back. He did get through a full bullpen on Saturday, however.
“He threw 36 pitches,” Martinez told reporters before the second of three with the New York Mets in Citi Field. “I don’t want to say it was 100 percent but he was up there in intensity. He let a couple balls go pretty good. He mixed everything in.
“He had a bullpen session. He felt good. We talked to him. We are going to see how he feels tomorrow and then go from there.”
Scherzer, as Rizzo said, knows his own body well, and also understands that it’s not he how feels while throwing, necessarily, but how he recovers, so he can keep going out there and stay on the mound down the stretch.
“It’s not about how I feel, it’s how I recover,” Scherzer said.
“That’s the problem with this,” he explained. “I can go out there and pitch, it’s how I recover, that’s the problem.
“And so for me, it’s going through here, do the program, what I do in the training room and the weight room. Make sure that I can get on the mound and do all my exercises I need to be able to do, and recover. That’s the most important thing with this.”
As for a timetable on when he might return?
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s not soon enough whatever it is.”
“Turned a corner here a few days ago, was able to start playing catch, getting through the ball again, and this is the next step to getting on the mound, make sure to throw a bullpen, recover from that, be able to go out there and do lifts, do everything I can to heal and get strong.”
Will he pass the next test when he wakes up this morning and progress further on the path back to the Nationals’ rotation?