Notes: Scherzer's buildup 'encouraging'

March 10th, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When manager Dave Martinez hears a specific sound emanating from the mound, he knows his starting pitcher is clicking.

“Typically, when he’s throwing the ball pretty good, he’ll let out a couple grunts,” Martinez said of right-hander . “He did that a few times today, so that was encouraging.”

Scherzer made his second start of Spring Training on Wednesday in a 3-2 win over the Cardinals. Building up his pitch count to 42, the right-hander fanned five and didn’t allow a single hit or run in a trio of three-up, three-down frames. His velocity reached 95 mph, and Martinez noted the sharpness of his breaking ball.

“I did some things well,” Scherzer said. “I thought I spun the ball pretty well. I also thought I was kind of leaving some balls arm side on a lot of executions that were maybe six inches arm side versus where I was actually trying to put the baseball. Those are the things that can get you in trouble in the regular season.”

Scherzer’s spring was delayed by a left ankle sprain he suffered during conditioning drills two weeks before camp. His ankle fared well during this outing. As much as he would like to be full-go whenever he takes the mound, he understands the buildup process during Spring Training.

“You want to [have a longer outing] until you realize your arm doesn’t want to, until you wake up tomorrow and it hurts because you’re breaking through all the old rust,” he said with a laugh. “So as much as you want to keep going, you also know tomorrow morning, [it] might not be the best idea to do that.”

The Nationals have yet to name their Opening Day starter, but Scherzer’s first two outings are a good sign ahead of his 14th season.

“Overall, I thought he threw the ball well, I really did,” Martinez said. “We’re heading in the right direction with Max.”

Soto sidelined vs. Cardinals

was out of the Nationals’ lineup Wednesday afternoon because he felt “a little ill,” according to Martinez. Soto saw a doctor and, per health and safety protocol, he did not come to the game. The right fielder will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Asked about potential contact tracing, Martinez said, “I don’t think it’s that kind of situation. It could be a multitude of things, so I don’t want to speculate on anything. We just know that hey, when somebody’s sick nowadays or feels any kind of sickness, we keep them away.”

Parra takes the field

The Nats held a “B” game against the Cardinals Wednesday morning to get extra innings for their young arms. This matchup also turned out to be an opportunity for a returning veteran to get in reps.

, who is with the Nats in camp as a non-roster invite, played three innings in right field. The 33-year-old is recovering from right knee surgery, and he has yet to be cleared for game action. Martinez estimated that Parra is playing at 85 percent as he continues to get back in baseball shape.

Parra led off the matchup with a double off the right-field wall and added a pair of walks.

“He had some fun this morning, as he always does,” Martinez said. “It was good to see him play.”

As for the prospects, who included Jackson Rutledge, Cade Cavalli, Cole Henry, Joan Adon and Tyler Eppler, Martinez said, “The young studs threw the ball really, really well.” The Nats won the game, 1-0.