Max Scherzer tried hard to diminish concerns about the right hamstring tweak which ended his outing after one inning on Wednesday night, telling reporters on a Zoom conference call after what ended up a 3-1 loss to the New York Mets, that he wouldn’t even call it an injury.
Scherzer tweaked the hamstring before his previous outing against the Toronto Blue Jays as he ran in the lead-up to the outing, and the same thing happened again before his outing in the finale with Washington’s NL East rivals. He tested it in game action for a long inning, but decided he couldn’t go any further than that safely.
“Going through the warm-up, throwing in the bullpen, and after the first inning, we just came to the conclusion that this injury — this ailment,” Scherzer said, “just wasn’t going to get any better by pitching on it. And so that’s why we made that decision.”
Scherzer, catcher Kurt Suzuki,and manager Davey Martinez noticed things they didn’t like, so the 36-year-old, 13-year veteran decided to shut it down, and start working towards his next turn in the rotation.
“Before the Blue Jays start last time out I had a little tweak and typically when you have injuries to your right leg you’re able to pitch through them a lot better,” he explained.
“If it’s your left leg, you’re done,” Scherzer continued, “because you’re putting all that force into your left leg, and so for me, I knew a right leg injury you can more often than not pitch through those, this one was just enough to where I couldn’t fully get into my drive leg.”
“It was also affecting my command,” he acknowledged. “I just couldn’t get into my leg.
“I was just in a little different mechanics to try to find the zone, and so once you have kind of all those factors weighing on your mind, the best decision was to get out of the game.”
“He was all good until yesterday,” Manager Davey Martinez said, echoing Scherzer’s own account that he tweaked the hamstring the day before the outing.
“Yesterday he was sprinting and he said he felt something but it wasn’t that bad. So, he woke up this morning, we had a conversation, he said he felt good, he said, ‘I’m good enough to pitch.’
“If we would have thought otherwise we wouldn’t have pitched him. He went out there and he just couldn’t really push off. That’s what we noticed. We talked to him and ... I said, ‘For the better, I think it’s smart to get you out of there.’ Because he wanted to, as you know, he said, ‘I can go out there and pitch.’ But I said no, we all agreed that it wasn’t a smart idea.”
When it comes to Scherzer, the Nationals’ third-year manager said, he’s learned that the three-time Cy Young winner is as honest as they come, is knowledgeable about his own body, and knows its limits.
“Max is Max,” Martinez said, repeating his oft-used Max-im. “The one thing about Max is he’s going to be totally honest with me. I mean, he really is, and when he says — he knows his body better than anybody, when he says he’s good, you take his word for it that he’s good.
“Today he went out there and he said he felt good. We watched him come in, he said his bullpen was good and then he went out there and said, ‘I just didn’t have the drive that I usually have on my leg.’ So I said well, ‘That’s good. What are you going to do? I just don’t want to get you hurt.’
“I’m assuming right now, if everything goes well, who knows, he might be back out there for his next start, so we’ll just take it day-by-day.”
Scherzer will also have a six days’ rest before his next planned outing, so he and his skipper both thought he’d likely be good to go next time his turn in the rotation comes around.
“I really don’t anticipate missing any time on this,” Scherzer said on Wednesday night.
“After the Blue Jays start ... after a couple days, I was able to get back into my routine of running and lifting, and I was running and lifting and everything felt good.
“Last thing that I hadn’t done going into this turn, was sprint, to be able to test it, so that was one of the things that we looked at yesterday trying to say, ‘Okay, over the past six days we have done all the work, I’m feeling good,’ and I was sprinting, and then it just had a little tweak again, when I was sprinting, so that’s what led to this one.
“And it was just a touch different, to the point where I just couldn’t get in with my leg fully, but at the end of the day this isn’t really a major injury, or even really a minor injury. It’s just a little day-to-day thing, so the fact that it happened yesterday was the reason why I was still feeling the effects of it.
“For me looking at this forward, I’m thinking that here in a couple days I’ll feel pretty darn good.
“I really don’t think this is a major injury. I fully anticipate getting back on the mound here sooner than later.”