DENVER -- "I'm lucky I still have just the one blue eye."
What began as a humorous exchange between Max Scherzer and reporters about his close call with a foul ball that lined into the Nationals' dugout on Sunday, soon turned sobering.
"The fact that [an intercostal injury] is what I'm having to deal with as a result of a ball being hit right at my head, I'll take it every time," Scherzer said. "I've seen some scary stuff before in my career. I played with somebody in A-ball, John Hester, and he got hit in the head and they had to get the ambulance out and pull him out. I mean, we thought he was dead in the dugout."
Scherzer tweaked his left intercostal muscle while avoiding a line-drive foul ball off the bat of the Marlins' Lewis Brinson in the eighth inning of Sunday's 5-0 victory. He threw a 20-pitch bullpen before the Nationals took the field against the Rockies at Coors Field on Tuesday, and is on track to make his next start Friday vs. the Padres at Nationals Park.
"I just wanted to be able to get off the mound today, throw pitches and be able to cover and come back tomorrow," Scherzer said. "Make sure that everything feels good going forward, and be able to throw another 20 pitches off the mound tomorrow, maybe with a little bit more hair on it to make sure everything's good to go."
Scherzer is coming off an uncharacteristic start last week in Miami, in which he gave up seven runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Besides recovering from the close call with the foul ball, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has spent the last couple of days reliving that start to figure out what went wrong.
"Just the location was off," Scherzer said. "Where I was trying to get the ball to certain areas, I just wasn't, and I was missing over the middle of the plate and missing up. I don't think anything's necessarily broken, I've just got to solve this little arm-action fix I can do, and I think that gets me on top of the ball a little bit better and I can execute my offspeed a little bit better.
"I typically make this little change, this little tweak, and everything crispens up, and that's what I look forward to with getting out there next time I start, making sure I'm executing those offspeed pitches with two strikes where I want to."
Rendon out of starting lineup for third straight game
Third baseman Anthony Rendon was not in the starting lineup for the Nationals' contest against the Rockies on Tuesday night. He suffered a left elbow contusion after being hit by a Jose Urena pitch in Miami last Saturday, and hasn't played since.
"He actually swung today, so he feels pretty good," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He's still a little tender, but he got some swings in and we'll see where he's at during the game. Hopefully he's not sore after doing all this work, and we potentially could use him today to pinch-hit."
Rendon, who has been Washington's best hitter this season, slashing .371/.451/.771 with 10 doubles and six home runs, did not pinch-hit in Tuesday's 6-3 victory over the Rockies.
In his absence, the Nationals recalled utility infielder Jake Noll on Monday for depth at third base, where Howie Kendrick has been starting in place of Rendon. The 35-year-old veteran has been red-hot since being inserted into the lineup on April 6, hitting .353/.432/.706 with three doubles and three homers.