Gonzalez going on paternity leave, Scherzer aiming to start Monday

CHICAGO - The Nationals are going to have to piece together their rotation for the rest of the weekend at Wrigley Field, but they expect to have Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez back pitching for them once they return to Washington on Monday.

Gonzalez, who was lined up to start Saturday against the Cubs, returned to Washington to be with his wife when she delivers the couple’s second child. The left-hander will go on the paternity leave list, with Edwin Jackson now starting Saturday’s game.

Scherzer, who was lined up to start Sunday, played catch today with no problems in his neck. He’ll throw a bullpen session Saturday and is preparing to start Monday against the Marlins. Rookie Erick Fedde will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to pitch the series finale against the Cubs, technically taking the roster spot that opens when Gonzalez officially goes on paternity leave.

scherzer-gray-side-throw.jpgIt’s not an ideal scenario for the Nationals, who essentially are sending their No. 6 and No. 7 starters to the mound against the defending World Series champions. But it’s a short-term issue the club expects to be resolved once they make it through the weekend.

The news is especially encouraging about Scherzer, who had to leave Tuesday night’s start in Miami after only one inning with neck spasms. The right-hander said he got a chiropractic adjustment and has been feeling progressively better since.

“Yep, I got snapped, and it’s good,” he said. “I’m in-line. I’m feeling much better. I can turn. ... Just got a little residual stiffness. But with the medication and everything, this will be gone.”

The Nationals toyed with the idea of having Scherzer start Sunday’s finale here at Wrigley Field, and he was initially planning to throw a bullpen session this morning in preparation for that. But after talking with pitching coach Mike Maddux and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, the decision was made to wait one more day and line up for Monday’s start.

“We were like, let’s just throw a bullpen tomorrow at truly 100 percent,” Scherzer said. “I’ve made progress every single day. In 24-48 hours, it’s going to be completely gone. No one’s even concerned, really. We’re just doing what we think is best to make a start on Monday.”

More injury updates ...

* Stephen Strasburg is “progressing well,” according to manager Dusty Baker, who could not say yet when the right-hander (on the DL with a nerve impingement in his right elbow) will be ready to pitch. Strasburg still needs to throw something akin to a simulated game in the bullpen before he’ll be cleared.

* Enny Romero was officially placed on the 10-day disabled list today, with Sammy SolĂ­s recalled from Syracuse to fill his spot in the bullpen. Romero, who departed Wednesday night’s game with a left forearm strain, is scheduled to be examined by a doctor to determine the extent of his injury.

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