BALTIMORE - Max Scherzer again played catch in the outfield at Camden Yards today, but his status for this weekend’s series in Atlanta won’t be known for at least another 24 hours.
Scherzer, on the 10-day injured list with a mid-back strain, threw from up to 90 feet on flat ground this afternoon. The Nationals ace had a long conversation with director of athletic training Paul Lessard at the end of the workout, but manager Davey Martinez described the throwing session as “encouraging” overall.
“Right now I’m not concerned at all, based on what I’m hearing from (Scherzer),” Martinez said. “He’s pretty honest when it comes to these things. Like I said, he feels good today, better than he did yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow he gets up and he feels better than he felt today, and then we’ll go from there.”
Martinez said Scherzer will again throw on flat ground Thursday at SunTrust Park, and then “if he’s up to it, he might throw a light bullpen.” That bullpen session, during which the right-hander throws all his pitches off a mound, is a necessary hurdle for him to cross before he’s cleared to return to game action.
Scherzer, who last pitched July 6 against the Royals, is eligible to come off the IL on Saturday. Martinez, though, said if he pitches this weekend it will be in Sunday night’s finale of a huge, four-game series with the Braves.
“But we’re not going to make that decision until we see how he feels tomorrow,” the manager said.
Scherzer did not appear in the clubhouse either of the last two afternoons while reporters were present.
For now, both the Nationals and Braves have only announced their starters for the first two games of the series. Stephen Strasburg will face Julio Teheran on Thursday, with Patrick Corbin going up against Mike Soroka on Friday.
Aníbal Sánchez is lined up to start Saturday night for the Nationals on five days’ rest, having last pitched Sunday in Philadelphia.
If Scherzer can’t start as hoped, the Nats would likely use Austin Voth (who allowed one run in six innings to the Orioles on Tuesday night) for Sunday night’s nationally televised series finale.