Scherzer on body: 'Exactly where I need to be'

February 19th, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The first game of Spring Training might as well be the first game of the regular season for . He wants to be on the mound.

The 35-year-old expects to start Saturday night’s Spring Training opener against the Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He threw two rounds of live batting practice on Wednesday in preparation.

“I feel really good right now,” Scherzer said. “To be at this point, to hit the live BP, first live BP, and be able to make two ups, that's exactly where I need to be. [I] can feel the shoulder is a little tired, right where you want it. So I threw just enough pitches, just right, to be able to get back out here in a couple days when the games start up. Right on target.”

Scherzer warmed up in the bullpen with . Then he threw a total of 42 pitches to a trio of , and , followed by , and . In this live BP drill, some players swung while others didn’t.

“Max, he’s very meticulous in what he does and how he does things,” manager Dave Martinez said. “You kind of just watch and see what he’s going through every pitch. It’s based on mechanics, using his legs, where his arm slot is. But he was really good.”

Scherzer is entering his 13th Major League season, coming off a 2019 campaign where he went 11-7 in 27 starts with a 2.92 ERA over 172 1/3 innings. During the playoffs, he had a 3-0 record in six starts, including 10 innings of World Series action.

Maintaining his health is a priority for Scherzer. He was scratched from Game 5 of the World Series last year because of neck pain. Scherzer has learned over the years to follow his pitching program leading up to and during Spring Training, which he considers “the most dangerous time of the year for pitchers.”

“If you're not ready for some of this throwing, it's not fatigue -- you get hurt,” he said.

That being said, the right-hander actually welcomes having soreness in his shoulder after Wednesday’s session. He worked his way up to Wednesday’s BP, and that feeling means he’s back doing his job.

“In Spring Training, you have to put yourself through some fatigue,” Scherzer said. “That's good for you. That's when you know you're pushing the limit in how you're building up.”

He added, “I know exactly where I need to be -- and I'm exactly where I need to be.”

Even if the batter is a non-swinging teammate, Scherzer is happy to have the ball in his hand. For all the seasons he has played, the excitement of throwing his first live batting practice of Spring Training hasn’t gone away.

“It's pretty similar,” Scherzer said. “It’s your first time getting out there and you’re so anxious to face hitters. [It’s] kind of your measuring stick moment, especially when you're in the clubhouse this much and all these guys are talking trash now and you want to shut them up because you know they're going to be running their mouths the next six months. [Smiles] It’s just fun to be able to face your own guys.”