Max Scherzer and Brandon Kintzler were having an animated discussion in a far corner of the visiting team’s clubhouse in Citi Field, handing a baseball back and forth and showing each other different grips as they talked. I hovered in the middle of the room, staying out of the way in the then-sparsely populated space with more reporters than players, waiting for an opportunity to try to ask Scherzer a few questions, trying to avoid looking like I was eavesdropping but wanting to stay close enough they knew I wanted to talk to one of them when they were done.
It was mid-July of 2018, Austin Voth had just made his MLB debut a day earlier, and both the young pitcher and then-first year manager Davey Martinez had talked after the game about Scherzer giving the rookie feedback on the outing, which saw the Washington Nationals’ 2013 5th Round pick out of the University of Washington give up nine hits, three walks, and seven runs over 4 1⁄3 innings pitched on the road in the New York Mets’ home.
Martinez said in his post game press conference he hadn’t talked to Voth about the outing in-depth, though he planned to, but he’d noticed Scherzer taking time once the debuting right-hander was done for the day to go over and sit with him in the dugout and discuss the start.
“He had [Max] Scherzer over there nitpicking and talking to him,” Martinez said. “I’m sure [Voth] got a lot out of that.”
The “nitpicking” from Scherzer, as Martinez described it, apparently continued once the game was over.
“After the game me and [Scherzer] were in the video room and were kind of going over a couple things that he had some questions for me and kind of just assessing some of my mechanics and maybe something I can adjust or something I can change and improve on, but yeah, that definitely helped,” Voth said.
It must be nice having a three-time Cy Young award-winner as a sounding board, offering advice? “For sure,” Voth said.
So seeing as how both Martinez and Voth had talked about Scherzer offering his thoughts, I figured I would ask the veteran about talking with and mentoring younger pitchers. Were they intimidated talking to someone else who’d had as much success as he’d had to that point? Getting advice from a future Hall of Fame pitcher could be intimidating, right? Did he ever find, like some other great athletes who tried their hand at coaching, that things which came naturally to them did not necessarily come naturally for others, making it, potentially, harder to offer advice? What had he seen from Voth and what feedback did he offer? Etc. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but three sides to a story, and something that was of interest to me, and, I thought, worth waiting for, but Scherzer and Kintzler were continuing to talk, and I didn’t want to interrupt the discussion — when finally they both got up, Kintzler first, walking away and out to the field, or trainer’s room or wherever.
Scherzer returned to his locker briefly, collected some things, then started off as well, and I approached him, notes in hand, iPhone open to the Voice Memos app, ready to hit record.
“Do you have a few minutes, Max?”
“A few questions.”
“No, not right now.”