Max Scherzer grunted his way through the Washington Nationals’ first sim game of Spring Training 2.0, facing a number of teammates as everyone works towards the start of 2020’s 60-game MLB campaign.
Scherzer tossed three innings against teammates Eric Thames, Michael A. Taylor, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Emilio Bonifacio, and Carter Kieboom, throwing 48 pitches to the batters who got to face the three-time Cy Young award winner.
“He looked good,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters told reporters on a Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon, once the simulated game was over.
“He threw 48 pitches,” Martinez said.
“We wanted to keep him right at 50. Three full innings, but he looked really good. The key now is his turnaround, let’s see how he feels tomorrow. But, he came out of the game, he said he felt good.
“His pitches were kind of — pretty sharp today for the first time being out facing hitters. I really liked it a lot. He liked it. So, let’s see how he feels tomorrow.”
Kieboom, 22, who’s set to start the campaign at third base in the nation’s capital, provided that MLB is able to pull off a season during a pandemic, told reporters in a separate Zoom call he too thought Scherzer was sharp on the mound.
“I saw him — I think I saw him once in 2017, my first Spring Training,” Kieboom said. “Same outcome as today, I struck out, but it was good.”
“He looks really sharp right now, really, really sharp. It’s Day 1 of seeing some live pitching, and to see guys of that status Day 1 is going to help us out tremendously in this league.”
Scherzer was followed on the mound by Kevin Quackenbush, Ryne Harper, and Aaron Barrett.
“I like to play defense behind those guys, that’s for sure,” Kieboom added, “and they looked really, really good today. I got to see a few different types of pitchers, with different stuff, and how they attack hitters, so it was nice to get the different variables from their stuff back out there, to see it.”
Martinez said in addition to Scherzer looking sharp, his hitters put together solid at bats.
“The at bats were really good. I loved it. Right now it’s about getting them ready, getting them to see live pitching. But they were all — all at bats were pretty good. And I like that.
“We’ve been working diligently to get these guys as many swings as possible in the cage, BP, saying that — we’ve got a velo machine that these guys stand in against, and it throws pretty hard. We’re getting these guys ready and prepared as quickly as possible.
“As you can tell, the intensity was really good. Trea, Adam, they’re working on their game. They got out there and they tried to steal bases.
“A lot of guys scored from first base today, which was kind of nice, but they were all really good.
“Thames is, he’s awesome. He fits right in with the group. A lot of fun. He likes to have fun. He’s going to do big things for us.”
Scherzer is expected to do big things as well, in the next-to-last year of the 7-year/$210M deal he signed with the Nationals in 2015.
Seeing him back up on the mound in the nation’s capital again, grunting on and stomping around was a welcome sight, with the aforementioned grunting echoing throughout the empty ballpark, which is something everyone will have to get used to.
“You’re going to hear things that probably people don’t get to hear, some good, and some bad, but it’s going to be fun,” Martinez said.
“[Scherzer is] very intense when he goes out there, all the grunting and stuff, man, he gets fired up.
“He knew we had a sim game, he was pitching at noon. He was out there at 10:30 [AM] just pacing back and forth, trying to get himself psyched up and treating this as if it was a game.”