BALTIMORE -- Nationals ace Max Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday against the Orioles due to mild right triceps discomfort related to hitting. Left-hander Jon Lester started in Scherzer's place.
Scherzer said he felt the discomfort after taking batting practice on Tuesday. He completed his 40-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, and his arm “fatigued out.” Scherzer underwent an MRI on Friday, which showed inflammation but no structural damage, and he was removed from the lineup on Saturday.
“I couldn't recover from the bullpen session,” Scherzer said. “It just made trying to start tonight extremely risky, and so we just backed off.”
Manager Dave Martinez and Scherzer both expect that Scherzer will be cleared to make his next scheduled start, which would involve first throwing a bullpen session.
“It’s still discomfort in his throwing arm, whether it was swinging or throwing,” Martinez said. “For me, it’s relatively all the same. The good thing is, the MRI came back extremely clean and everything. I’m not really concerned about it -- I’m really not.”
Scherzer describes himself as a “more-is-more type guy,” but said he will not pick up a bat until he is completely healed. He attributes the injury to not having been in the cage enough between starts because of the All-Star break.
"For me, this is definitely coming from hitting -- that’s the weird part in all this,” Scherzer said. “I felt good playing catch, and then all of a sudden when I went to hit … that’s what’s irritating my tricep, is hitting.”
The scratch comes less than a week before the July 30 Trade Deadline. With a 7-4 record, a 2.83 ERA and an expiring contract, Scherzer has been at the center of buzz. General manager Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday he expects Scherzer to remain a member of the Nationals unless the team goes into full sell mode, which he doesn’t anticipate happening. Scherzer would have veto power over any deal.
“It’s just part of the game, part of the business of the game. That’s just the reality,” Scherzer said of Deadline chatter. “But for me, I come to the park wanting to win -- wanting to win here. You just come in, just put the blinders up and just have fun with it, and just come out here and play baseball.”