Scherzer to replace Strasburg on NL All-Star team

NEW YORK - Max Scherzer is an All-Star again after Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals decided to keep him out of the game out of caution for his recent back injury.

Strasburg was officially taken off the active All-Star roster today, a decision he and the club made together in response to the upper back strain that he only returned to the mound from earlier this week. Needing to name a replacement on the National League roster, Mets manager Terry Collins selected the Nats’ other right-handed ace, who now becomes an All-Star for the fourth straight year.

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“I was so pumped,” said Scherzer, who represented the Tigers in 2013-14 and the Nationals last summer (even though he couldn’t pitch after starting two days earlier). “The All-Star Games are so much fun to go to. It’s one of the highest recognitions you can get. When I heard the news that I was going to be able to replace Stras, that Terry had picked me, I was real excited.”

Scherzer’s resume includes plenty of All-Star-worthy numbers: a 3.21 ERA, a league-leading 155 strikeouts and minuscule 0.970 WHIP. He also leads the league with 21 home runs allowed, one factor contributing to his 9-6 record, but the veteran right-hander appreciated Collins recognizing the positive things he has done over the last three months.

“That’s why I’m also appreciative, because Terry picked me,” Scherzer said. “There’s other guys who had qualified resumes, so to speak, that he could have chosen. But when you get your name called, it does validate some of the things I do. You’re right, I’ve given up a lot of home runs and I haven’t pitched quite as well as I’d like to. But I also look at this as a challenge to overcome and the path I have to continue to be the best pitcher I can possibly be. It just doesn’t happen overnight.”

The decision for Strasburg to sit out the game wasn’t simple. He returned from the disabled list on Sunday and promptly threw 6 2/3 no-hit innings against the Reds before getting pulled with his pitch count at 109. His 11-0 record, 2.71 ERA and the fact the game is being played in his hometown of San Diego made it an enticing honor to accept.

Strasburg is starting tonight against the Mets, and won’t be available to talk to reporters until afterward, but club officials said it was a joint decision both sides agreed made sense given the situation and the pitcher’s track record of back injuries.

“He was on the DL twice last year with the same back issue. He’s on the DL this year with the same back issue,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We just thought it was prudent for him. We’re looking for him to be one of the horses that carries us through deep into the season. And we felt it was in his best interests and in the best interests of the team for him not to pitch tonight and then pitch again on Tuesday, with the recent history of the back.”

Strasburg still is invited to particpate in All-Star Game festivities, so he officially remains a member of the squad, giving the Nationals a new club record five representatives. Along with Scherzer and Strasburg, outfielder Bryce Harper, second baseman Daniel Murphy and catcher Wilson Ramos will be traveling to San Diego for next week’s Midsummer Classic.

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