Max Scherzer told reporters in Florida on Tuesday that he could have thrown in his planned Grapefruit League outing against the Miami Marlins, but an issue with his side that’s tied to mechanical changes he made while dealing with a rhomboid strain last season, resulted in him being a little sore as he builds up strength this Spring.
“This is what they wanted to do,” Scherzer explained when he spoke about the decision to long-toss instead of starting.
“I thought I could make it, but I understand where they’re coming from,” the Nationals’ 35-year-old ace said. “We’re probably both right. For me I thought I could just go out there and just throw jabs and punches, and not throw any haymakers, but they didn’t want to take that chance, so for me I got to go out there today, long-toss, I feel great, recovered from that well, so just stay on the program, make my next start.”
Scherzer’s next start is now scheduled for Sunday, and he expects to make that start and potentially one more before Opening Day on March 26th in Citi Field.
“I just have an ailment, it’s on my side, just a combination between lat, serratus, oblique, just that whole general area,” the three-time Cy Young award-winner said.
“Once I adjusted my mechanics to alleviate the rhomboid stress ... I shifted out to — from the side where I always had it, just that part was just lagging behind in terms of where my arm strength was, and how I was long-tossing in January, so that part was just a little bit behind, it’s just been playing catch-up. There’s not even a strain, there’s no MRIs, there’s nothing like that, this is purely just a fatigue, endurance thing. I didn’t recover quickly — I recovered I thought quickly enough to be able to make it out for my next start but the training staff saw that I’m kind of ahead of the program and just felt like it was unnecessary risk for me to take the ball today.
“But their protocols are to just have me skip a start and should be ready to go back out here on Sunday.”
Davey Martinez said after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Marlins that he wasn’t concerned about the possibility of Scherzer missing the start of the regular season.
“No, not at all,” the manager said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Honestly, he wanted to pitch yesterday. Then he fought us to throw today. We said no.”
Scherzer did try to explain how the shift back to his regular mechanics (from the mechanics he used while dealing with the issues last season) led to the current problem.
“Where I shifted the stress onto the side, that’s where it’s normally at,” Scherzer said, “how I was going through my offseason program just didn’t build that up to the same degree, just the way I was throwing the ball, it’s just an endurance thing. So like today, I was out there a long — here’s your recipe: You can go out there and long-toss, if you long-toss it really opens up everything, and if you’re throwing mechanically correct, then my side is getting more and more endurance.
“So, like I’m throwing the ball plenty far, everything is firing on all cylinders, they just didn’t want to be in a game today where I was getting off the mound and just run into a situation, they wanted me to be in a game and at full-tilt.”
After talking this winter about the frustration of dealing with what he described as, “the most confusing injury I’ve ever had in my career,” last season, Scherzer was asked if he’s being more cautious as he prepares for the 2020 campaign?
“Probably just the opposite,” he said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “Even though that was a learning curve, I do know my body and kind of know where the line is of failure, of where your body does break down. I’ve dealt with plenty of other ailments with my body across the years, and know when you have to back off and know how you can still toe the mound and still pitch at a high level and maybe not get into it as much and kind of build endurance.
“So for me, going forward, I know my body well and know how to handle situations like this.”