Scherzer throws off mound, full squad takes field for first time

Max Scherzer was back on a mound this morning in West Palm Beach, Fla., throwing pitches (albeit not many and not at full velocity) for the first time since a sprained left ankle sidetracked him two weeks ago.

Scherzer was cleared to resume throwing off the bullpen mound. He wound up throwing 10 pitches, “very light,” according to manager Davey Martinez.

“We just wanted to see him land on that foot,” Martinez said during his daily Zoom session with reporters. “He said he felt good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow morning, but that was encouraging to watch him go out there.”

Scherzer-Delivers-Gray-Camden-Yards-Sidebar.jpgOnce they see how Scherzer’s ankle feels Wednesday, the Nationals will determine the next step in his progression. But if he has no issues, he could be cleared to throw a full-scale bullpen session within days and then work to catch up with the rest of his teammates.

Other Nationals pitchers have thrown at least two bullpen sessions so far and are expected to face live hitters later this week. The exhibition season begins Sunday, with starters likely limited to two innings and 30 pitches or so.

With more than five weeks still to go until opening night against the Mets, Scherzer has ample time to build his arm up, provided he has no more setbacks.

The Nationals had near-100 percent participation for their first full-squad workout of the spring. Only Scherzer and two other pitchers waiting to be cleared to join camp (Javy Guerra, Jeremy Jeffress) weren’t participating in full, according to Martinez.

Guerra (who just arrived in Florida on Monday after staying home in Arizona to be with his pregnant wife) and Jeffress (who just signed a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp Monday) are awaiting results of their intake testing for COVID-19. If cleared, each is expected to be on the field Wednesday, Martinez said.

Every position player was present and accounted for on day one, according to the manager. Infielders and outfielders worked in groups for the first time. Everyone took batting practice.

“It’s almost like the first day of school,” Martinez said. “You know, getting to see everybody again, getting reacquainted with everybody, starting communication with everybody and build those relationships. It was really good to see everybody.”

Not everything was perfectly normal. Though Martinez was able to hold his standard “Circle of Trust” morning meeting with the entire group before the workout session began, players and coaches had to be spread out instead of tightly compact as they’ve done in the past.

“I like to get these guys really close and together,” the manager said. “Had to keep them kind of within a distance. But I laid out my message, and I told them pitchers and catchers set the precedent early. They came in, they’re working diligently. Now we have the whole team together. It’s about us. It’s about our families. It’s about communicating. It’s a commitment. So let’s go out there and have some fun.”

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