Scherzer aiming to return Thursday, Voth heads to IL

ATLANTA - The Nationals are preparing for Max Scherzer to return to the rotation Thursday afternoon and start their series finale against the Rockies.

Scherzer, who hasn’t pitched since July 6 due to an inflamed bursa sac underneath his right shoulder blade, continues to feel better from a cortisone shot he received earlier in the week. Manager Davey Martinez said the right-hander is scheduled to throw a full bullpen session Monday afternoon at Nationals Park.

“We’ll see how that goes,” Martinez said. “And then we’ll try to plot out how he fits in.”

Scherzer typically throws his bullpen sessions three days before a start, so this lines him up to face the Rockies on Thursday. Martinez said “hopefully” that will be the end result of this rehab process.

Max-Scherzer-Finish-Red-Sidebar.jpgThe Nationals have announced their rotation plan for the first three games of the four-game series against Colorado: Erick Fedde will start Monday’s opener, followed by Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The club could start Aníbal Sánchez on normal rest Thursday and save Scherzer for Friday night’s opener against the best-in-baseball Dodgers, but it appears they’re more interested in getting their ace back on the mound at the soonest possible date, regardless of opponent.

Even if Scherzer starts Thursday, he’d still line up to face the Braves on June 30.

The Nationals believe there will be no lingering effects of Scherzer’s injury once he returns. Asked today if he’s reasonably confident this will be behind Scherzer if he gets through Monday’s bullpen session with no trouble, general manager Mike Rizzo replied: “I’m reasonably confident.”

Scherzer originally hoped to start tonight’s series finale at SunTrust Park, but once he was ruled out the Nationals intended to use Austin Voth instead. But then Voth reported shoulder tightness after his last bullpen session and today he was placed on the 10-day injured list with right biceps tendinitis. Joe Ross, recalled from Triple-A Fresno, will now make the start.

Voth said he had been dealing with shoulder tightness “the last two weeks” but when he threw off the mound here in Atlanta earlier this week “it turned into more of a pinch in front of my shoulder.”

“I tried to kind of work through it, but it didn’t feel right at all,” he said. “In seven years of professional baseball, I never had pain in the front of my shoulder. So I was kind of frustrated about it.”

The Nationals diagnosed the injury as biceps tendinitis, which shouldn’t keep the right-hander shut down for long. He plans to try to play catch Monday and see how he feels.

Voth has been trying to make his case to be the Nats’ No. 5 starter, along with Fedde. Asked if it was difficult to balance his attempt to stay on the team vs. reporting an injury, he admitted he was “very conflicted.”

“I want to go out there and pitch,” he said. “But I don’t want to not be 100 percent and just put the game on the line because I want to fight through something. When I should maybe sit back and let it just take my time and rest.”

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