PHILADELPHIA - Max Scherzer’s back is still sore, and despite being scratched from Sunday’s start here at Citizens Bank Park, he believes he will be back for Tuesday’s series opener in Baltimore against the Orioles.
“Tuesday’s realistic,” Scherzer confirmed Friday night after his club shut out the Phillies 4-0. “That’s what we’re hoping for. That’s where we’re just in a matter of days here. This is not a major thing. We know exactly what this is. We know it’s muscular.
“The pause for concern is that we tried to get it going for the Kansas City start and wasn’t able to recover from the Kansas City start. Now you got to go on a little different protocol to make sure I’m 100 percent right before I step on the mound again.”
Scherzer originally felt the tightness in his back after his June 30 start at Detroit. In that game he threw 115 pitches over eight innings. Then, July 6 against the Royals, Scherzer fired 103 pitches and lasted seven innings. He won both games.
The club decided that their ace would not pitch in the All-Star Game Tuesday in Cleveland. He still attended the event with his two-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, enjoyed the parade, the game and All-Star festivities. He even had a plan of working out and throwing Tuesday. But the back did not respond as quickly as he had hoped.
“It just didn’t,” Scherzer said. “We anticipated for (the back) to kind of loosen up over the All-Star break and maybe play catch Tuesday at the game. It was just still tight. Just wasn’t free enough for me to play catch. When you start doing the math on the days, I need to throw a bullpen, it just wasn’t going to happen before Sunday.”
But even with the news that he wasn’t going to pitch here in Philadelphia on Sunday, he took some steps forward these last few days. The MRI on Wednesday came back negative. On Friday, he threw from 70-75 feet with no issues.
“I’ve made progress over the past two days, done the treatment,” Scherzer said. “Had an MRI, it was clean. We know exactly what this is. It’s just a matter of getting this right and making sure it doesn’t linger any further in the season.”
Scherzer said he believes his problem stems from an issue in his right shoulder blade.
“It’s my back trying to stabilize my (scapula) as I pitch,” Scherzer said. “That’s what’s going on here. We know what’s going on. We try to treat it. Everybody has a very good bead on what this is. We just know it’s not major. We know it’s minor. That’s where we’ve been kind of lucky to have the All-Star break to get the rest that I need. I was hoping to pitch Sunday, but the math is just not going to work out for that.”
If Scherzer can return and pitch Tuesday against the Orioles, that still keeps him in line to pitch at Atlanta next Sunday. That is if the back reacts well to anti-inflammatory treatment. Scherzer does not believe the back soreness is a setback that will linger.
“This is not something to be overly concerned about. I know what it takes to toe the rubber. You have to absolutely be able to get through the pitch. I thought I was able to get through the pitch and get through the ball against Kansas City.
“(I) felt fine,” Scherzer insisted. “Obviously didn’t hurt myself, though this other little muscle tightened up on me and just hasn’t relaxed. I know the feeling of what it’s going to take to get back on the mound and get completely though the ball. Like I said, we’re only a matter of days. This isn’t a long-term injury.”
Aníbal Sánchez will pitch Sunday here in Philadelphia. Then, if all goes well, Scherzer goes on Tuesday.
“Everything else on my body feels great,” Scherzer said. “The fact that I was able to go out there and make a start and have something tight and not compromise my shoulder or elbow, that’s, knock on wood, was what we were really concerned about.
“Going forward, I absolutely trust everybody in the medical staff, their opinions, their diagnosis of what this is and how soon I should be ready to be back on the mound.”