Max Scherzer was unequivocal in his own assessment of where he’s at in his rehab from the mild rhomboid strain which led to a second stint on the Injured List in the last two months.
Scherzer threw a two-inning sim game on Tuesday afternoon, and felt fine after throwing on Wednesday, so, he told reporters in D.C. in a scrum in the Nationals’ dugout, he is now ready to take the next step.
“I’m good to go,” Scherzer said.
“I’ve thrown a pen, threw in a sim game, the pitches feel there, throwing a bullpen is not going to do any difference, you’ve just got to get in a game to get a feel for everything.”
“I want to pitch in the big leagues,” the 35-year-old, three-time Cy Young winner added. “I think I’m ready to pitch in the big leagues.”
“He’s very excited this morning,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said, while noting that the final decision on when Scherzer returns will be made in consultation with the Nationals’ medical and coaching staff.
“We’ll see, like I said, I’m going to sit down with [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart] and see where we’re at.”
Scherzer ... is ready.
He’s pitched once since July 6th, missing time with what was initially diagnosed as a mid-back strain but turned out to be scapulothoracic bursitis, then returning to the Nationals’ rotation on July 25th, before ending up back on the IL with the rhomboid issue. He thinks he’s ready now, and he wants back in.
“We’re going to be careful with him, obviously,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies before Scherzer threw and spoke to reporters on Wednesday.
“He’s a huge part of what we’re trying to do here, and we always have to remember we have to sit on the guy because he wants to pitch today, tomorrow, and Friday, so we have to really kind of look through what he says, and he knows his body very, very well, but he’s an ultra-competitor, and he’s super man, so we’ve got to really make sure that he’s feeling good and ready for this long-term, because we’re hoping to play for a couple more months now.”
“You’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the game, so if he’s ready and we deem that he’s ready, then he’ll be out there,” Martinez added.
“Throwing two innings yesterday, that was kind of fatiguing, for everything — where I’ve been — I haven’t been on the mound in so long, that to be able to come in today and not have it get worse, that was the biggest thing,” Scherzer said, “... and to actually have it get better, so the fact that it actually got better, that shows you that now you’re in the natural progression of, ‘Okay, if I’m throwing two innings where I’m at there, and I’m healing up and I’m recovering well from throwing two innings in a game situation, that for me I feel like I’m able to pitch in a game.”
The Nationals’ starters for Saturday and Sunday’s game with Milwaukee’s Brewers were TBA as of Wednesday, so will we see Scherzer in one of those games?
“It could be,” Martinez said. “I want to make sure that — the next steps are crucial for him, so but he feels good, and that’s a good sign. That’s a step moving forward.”