Update on Scherzer and other injured Nationals (Nats down 7-0)

MIAMI - Max Scherzer remained upbeat this afternoon, believing his neck injury isn't serious and can be fixed with a simple adjustment that could allow him to make his next start for the Nationals on schedule.

Scherzer said he believes he has a pinched nerve in his neck, one that forced him out of Tuesday night's start after only one inning. The remedy: He plans to see a chiropractor sometime in the next 24 hours.

It's too soon to know if Scherzer will be able to make his next start (potentially Sunday in Chicago) but he was no more concerned today than he was Tuesday night about his overall prognosis.

Scherzer-Delivers-Gray-Sidebar.jpgAsked if he is worried his ace might have to miss a start, manager Dusty Baker said: "No, not right now. We don't know."

If nothing else, Scherzer took an important step to try to prevent a similar injury from occurring again. Having been knocked out of one start after waking up with a crick in his neck, he went shopping in Miami.

"I definitely went to Target last night and bought a nice pillow," he said.

Scherzer isn't the only member of the Nationals rotation with an uncertain status at the moment. Gio Gonzalez is tentatively penciled in to start Saturday in Chicago, but the left-hander may need to leave the club at some point if he learns his wife has gone into labor.

Those two potential developments leave the Nats unable to set a firm rotation for their big weekend series against the Cubs. They do have several fallback options, though, most notably Edwin Jackson, who will be fresh and available to start either Saturday or Sunday after Tanner Roark pitches Friday's opener.

Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list on Thursday, but Baker suggested that's unlikely to happen. Strasburg, who has been throwing since being sidelined with a nerve impingement in his elbow, still needs to throw a pseudo-simulated game in the bullpen before he'll be cleared to return.

The Nationals do have one more fallback option in Erick Fedde, who was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse today to clear a spot for emergency starter A.J. Cole but would be allowed to be recalled before the typical 10-day waiting period if Gonzalez goes on paternity leave or Scherzer goes on the DL.

All of this leaves the Nationals in a less-than-ideal situation heading into a key weekend showdown with the defending World Series champs.

"Sometimes you don't know," Baker said. "So we'll let you know soon as we see the state and condition of everybody."

The Nationals have been getting encouraging news on their three injured regular position players. Both Jayson Werth (foot) and Trea Turner (wrist) left Miami for West Palm Beach this afternoon and will ramp up their baseball activities at the club's spring training complex.

"Jayson's probably closer than Trea, I would guess," Baker said. "I would hope. I'm just praying that the day comes pretty soon when they both come back."

Michael A. Taylor (oblique) played in his third rehab game for Single-A Potomac today and went 1-for-2 with two intentional walks.

Update: With three innings in the books, the Nationals trail 1-0, but it could've been worse. Cole got off to a rocky start, walking Dee Gordon to open his night, then serving up an RBI double to Giancarlo Stanton and walking Christian Yelich. But the right-hander has settled down since then and is through three innings on 55 pitches. The Nats lineup, meanwhile, has done nearly nothing so far against Vance Worley, who has faced the minimum through three innings. Howie Kendrick did deliver a first-inning single, making 6-for-6, but Bryce Harper grounded into a double play on the next pitch.

Update II: Cole had settled down and seemed to be on the verge of giving the Nats a quality start, but then came the bottom of the fifth, and that did not go well. He served up a pair of towering, two-run homers, one to Yelich and the other to Derek Dietrich. And so in the end the Nationals got only five innings of five-run ball from their emergency starter. Not great. Also not great: Their lineup, which has scored in only two of the first 23 innings of this series. It's 5-0 Miami after five.

Update III: Things keep going from bad to worse. The Marlins scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, both charged to Enny Romero, who had to depart after four batters with some kind of injury. He had dealt with back spasms a couple weeks ago in Arizona, so perhaps that cropped up again. Whatever the case, it's not an encouraging development on a night in which there haven't been many, if any. It's 7-0 Marlins after six.

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