Scherzer throws in bullpen, appears good to return Sunday

Max Scherzer appears to be good to go Sunday against the Mets.

Scherzer threw off the bullpen mound at Nationals Park this afternoon, the final step he said was necessary to be able to start a game two days later.

max-scherzer-white-pink.jpgThe Nationals ace was in full uniform as he threw his bullpen session with pitching coach Mike Maddux alongside, standard practice for all members of the rotation in their between-starts routine. He didn't stop to take questions from reporters as he walked down the dugout steps and back to the clubhouse, but he offered a thumbs-up sign, the closest he came to confirmation that all is fine.

Scherzer hasn't pitched since Aug. 13, when he held the Giants to two runs in seven innings, striking out 10. He was scheduled to start five nights later in San Diego but was scratched about two hours prior to first pitch with a recurrence of the neck pain that caused him to leave a July 31 start in Miami after only one inning.

The Nationals placed Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list, and he expressed hope from the outset he'd be ready to return when eligible tonight. But when he wasn't able to throw off a mound by Wednesday in Houston, he had to adjust his outlook.

Scherzer told reporters Thursday he was doing better and was close to being able to throw off the mound. Dusty Baker got a positive vibe from the right-hander earlier this afternoon.

"He had his uniform on early," the manager said. "And when you hear Max chirping, you know something's good."

With Scherzer unavailable to start tonight, A.J. Cole was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to make his fifth big league appearance of the season. Pedro Severino, who had been on the 25-man roster as the club's third catcher since Aug. 15, was optioned back to Syracuse to clear a spot for Cole.

If Scherzer is unavailable to start one game of Sunday's doubleheader, the Nationals likely would recall top prospect Erick Fedde, who is lined up to pitch that day for Syracuse. Tanner Roark is scheduled to start the other half of the doubleheader.

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