Davey Martinez reported just one issue among all the pitchers and catchers who reported for the official start of Spring Training this week, when the Washington Nationals’ manager talked on a Zoom call with reporters for the first time this year.
“Max [Scherzer], during his conditioning, he sprained his ankle,” Martinez said.
“So we’re going to slow him down a little bit and take it day to day. So hopefully this is something that won’t hold him back too much, but like I said, we’re early in the Spring, we’re going to slow him down a little bit. His arm feels great. He’s in really good shape.
“As we all know, this is his final year on the contract, so he’s going to push himself, but we need to be careful with him right now.”
Scherzer, 36, is heading into the final year of his seven-year/$210M deal with the Nationals, and coming off a 2020 campaign in which, by his own admission last September, he didn’t get right on the mound until late in the year.
In his sixth season in the nation’s capital, Scherzer had a 3.74 ERA, a 3.46 FIP, 23 walks (3.07 BB/9), 92 strikeouts (12.30 K/9), and a .260/.319/.424 line against over 12 starts and 67 1⁄3 IP.
As he prepared for what will be his 14th major league season, he tweaked his left ankle.
“He did it about two weeks ago,” Martinez explained. “He said he felt okay and he went to throw a bullpen and he felt it, so we told him, ‘Hey, it’s early,’ so we’re going to back off a little bit.”
How did Scherzer, who’s known for going strong out of the gate in Spring Training take the news that they planned to slow him down a little bit to start off?
“He actually took it pretty well,” Martinez said. “I often joke with him, he’s not 25 as we all know, so maybe this will slow him down a little bit, he gets himself ready, and we get him ready to go again. The good news is, like I said, is that he’s in great shape, and his arm feels really good. So, once we can get him back on the mound, he’ll take off, as we all know, he’s so used to coming in and throwing 45-50 pitches the first day, so this could be a blessing in disguise, who knows, but we just want to make sure that when he’s out on the mound, that his mechanics are right, and everything is right, so he doesn’t hurt anything else.”