He did not come right out and say it, but because today’s bullpen session went so well, it is likely that right-hander Max Scherzer will be back Thursday or Friday after recovering from bursitis in his right shoulder.
Scherzer said Monday’s bullpen session at Nats Park went exactly as planned and he felt at full strength.
“Got off the mound, did a full bullpen,” Scherzer reported. “Everything feels good. Ball comes out of my hand exactly how it should feel like, at 100 percent. Been wanting the ball, I want the ball. Hopefully can pitch here really soon.”
So, with all systems go, how badly does Scherzer want to pitch this Thursday or Friday?
“Really anxious. I really want to get going,” Scherzer said. “I hope the sooner the better. That’s their call. Hopefully, the sooner the better.”
Beyond his health, the Nats must consider other factors, and weather and opponent are at the top of the list.
Thunderstorms and rain are in the forecast early this week, with the Rockies in town Monday through Thursday. Then there is the opponent over the weekend, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have accumulated the best record in baseball.
But Scherzer has to be good to go for the rest of the season, too. A healthy Scherzer is the top reason why the Nats have been able to make a 33-15 run since late May. The right-hander understands the medical staff is being very careful with the treatment of the bursitis in his shoulder.
“When you are dealing with bursitis, yeah, of course it can come back,” Scherzer said. “So that’s why everyone is exercising as much caution as we possibly can, ‘cause you don’t want to reinjure this. Bursitis is a nasty little thing here. Just glad I’m able to get through it. Hopefully, we never talk about this again.
“None of the muscles were ever strained. None of the muscles were ever hurt. I was able to keep my strength. And that’s just from all the work you do as a pitcher every five days. Your scapulas are such a huge part of maintaining your strength on the back side so that you keep your shoulder healthy. This injury was unrelated to the actual muscles. This was bursitis, which was completely different than dealing with any type of tendinitis or muscle-type thing.”
Scherzer mentioned in Atlanta that former teammate Shawn Kelley has had to endure the same injury this season. The treatment, which included a cortisone shot, helped the reliever get better.
“Talking with (Nationals director of athletic training) Paul Lessard here, I’ve pitched for awhile, I’ve never heard pitcher having the exact bursitis in the location I have,” Scherzer said. “It was nice to have Kelley kind of be out in front of this and understand for a few days this is what you’re going to feel tomorrow. Just kind of ease my mind on everything, knowing how good a relationship we have. He’s a little bummed up right now because he has a little bicep tendinitis.”
Nationals manager Davey Martinez also got the same positive report about Scherzer’s bullpen session but would not confirm a Thursday or Friday return just yet.
“I heard it went really well,” Martinez said of bullpen session. “We will see how he feels tomorrow and then we will go from there. But if he feels good, then (he will start) at the end of this week somewhere.”
* First baseman Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the injured list Monday with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. It is the same injury that kept him off the field from April 27 to June 28. Martinez said this morning’s MRI of Zimmerman’s foot confirmed the injury.
“He has a slight rupture of his plantar,” Martinez said. “And from past experience, I’ve had it, now it’s just, really, pain tolerance. It could go away really fast and he could come back, or it could take awhile. The injured list stint for him is 10 days. Hopefully, he gets through it and he could come back soon as possible.”
Martinez was asked about his level of concern over the recurrence of Zimmerman’s foot injury.
“It all depends on how quick he heals, really,” the skipper said.
With Zimmerman to the injured list, the Nats recalled outfielder Andrew Stevenson from Triple-A Fresno.
The club selected the contract of right-hander Michael Blazek from Fresno. Blazek has pitched in 109 major league games, the last in 2017 with the Brewers. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, right-hander Justin Miller was moved to the 60-day injured list and right-hander Kyle McGowin was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg.