Max Scherzer exchanged some intense handshakes with Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez once he was done throwing 64 pitches over four innings in his second sim game in Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon.
It looks like it will be Scherzer’s last simulated outing as he works his way back from a mild rhomboid strain.
“He felt good,” Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, once the 35-year-old, three-time Cy Young award winner was done with his work on the mound. “He’s a little bit ornery, but that’s a good thing. Now we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
“That’s probably a really good assessment about my overall mentality right now,” Scherzer said this weekend, when asked about his manager saying he was “ornery”.
Scherzer has been champing at the bit to get back in the Nationals’ rotation, having made just one major league start since July 6th, as he’s dealt with both scapulothoracic bursitis and then the rhomboid strain.
Coming out of his second sim game, Scherzer said he felt fine and was good to go, though he’d said he was ready to start for the Nationals after the first sim game.
“I feel good,” Scherzer said on Sunday.
“I woke up this morning, arm’s moving around, going through the throwing motion it feels good. I’m sore in all the right spots given that throwing  pitches and all the treatment that we did yesterday. It’s right where it should be, right where I thought it was going to be, so for me this was a good sign.”
While his manager wouldn’t commit to Scherzer returning to the big leagues next time out, he did say that the right-hander will be on a regular schedule going forward.
“We’re trying to schedule everything as if today he pitched,” Martinez explained on Saturday. “He’s got five days. So he’ll be on his regular routine.”
That would, of course, line Scherzer up to throw again on Thursday, when the Nationals will be playing the series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park.
He’s been as intense, or ornery, as he’s been the last few weeks, because he’s just naturally intense, but also because he’s tried to maintain the intensity he has on the mound and he’s been on the verge of returning for a while now, so he hasn’t let up.
“If I knew this was going to be, however long this was going to take, if I was dealing with a more significant injury where, hey, you’re not going to feel good in six weeks, alright yeah, you can easily mentally check out six weeks knowing that alright, I’m not going to be able to throw a ball in six weeks and you can build your rehab around [that],” Scherzer explained.
“That hasn’t been the case, it’s really been day-to-day, hey, you might be feeling good here in two days, and that’s really been the prognosis that I’ve gotten from the doctors and everybody about what I’m dealing with, and so for me, that’s really been the hardest part mentally, is that I feel like any point in time I could be ready to get back out there, and at any day everybody is expecting that this could turn, and for me when you have that carrot right in front of your face and you want to be out there helping your team, that’s what’s been the most frustrating part for me mentally.”
“He wants to be on the mound,” Martinez said, “he wants to help us win, but this is part of it.”
Come Thursday night, Scherzer might actually be able to directly contribute to the fight to get to the postseason.