DENVER - Max Scherzer believes he’ll be good to make his next scheduled start as planned Friday night. But even if he isn’t, the Nationals ace is grateful he’s only dealing with a mild ribcage strain after dodging a foul ball Sunday in Miami that could have caused far more damage had it struck him.
“First of all, you’ve got to understand: This is best-case scenario,” Scherzer said this afternoon. “That ball was hit over 100 mph, right at my head. I’m just lucky I still have one blue eye. For me, just getting out of the way and the fact this is all I have to deal with as the result of a ball being hit right at my head, I’ll take it every time.”
The foul ball late during Sunday’s game against the Marlins narrowly missed Scherzer, who was watching from the dugout rail along the first base line. But he tweaked his left side while getting out of the way of the screaming liner. He said afterward he expected to be fine within a day or two.
Sure enough, two days after the fact, Scherzer was on the bullpen mound at Coors Field, throwing 20 pitches. That’s fewer pitches than he typically throws in between starts, but he wanted to ease back into it and make sure everything was fine.
Scherzer said he emerged from this session with no setbacks. He met for several minutes with general manager Mike Rizzo and director of athletic training Paul Lessard and now plans to throw another 20 pitches off the mound Wednesday. Assuming all goes well, he’ll start Friday against the Padres at Nationals Park.
“When you see progress made in the first 48 hours, that’s usually a good sign,” Scherzer said. “And the fact I was able to throw a baseball well today, that’s a good day, a good sign for me to be able to pitch on Friday.”
The Nationals will be cautious with Scherzer, especially this early in the season. They already bumped back one of his starts this month to give him more time to recover from a bruised ankle after getting struck by a comebacker. If he doesn’t feel right in the next few days, he’ll let the club know.
“That’s just where you have to be honest with yourself and the trainers and just listen to what they have to say, what they think about different things,” the pitcher said. “For me, this is an injury I’ve never had. This is a hitter’s injury. I don’t swing the bat hard enough to get this kind of injury. For me, just try to listen to what they say, what they think is going to happen given my symptoms and how I felt good today.”
In the larger picture, Scherzer is trying to remind himself this could have been much, much worse had he not avoided the foul ball.
“I’ve seen some scary stuff in my career,” he said. “I played with somebody, John Hester, in A-ball when he got hit in the head and they had to get the ambulance out to pull him out. We thought he was dead in the dugout. Getting hit in the head is a really serious thing. I’m lucky I dodged a bullet.”