WASHINGTON -- All eyes were on Max Scherzer for his full bullpen session Monday afternoon, but there will be even more people watching him when he arrives at the ballpark Tuesday.
How Scherzer feels the day after what he hopes is his final step in rehabbing from inflammation in the bursa under his right shoulder, a condition known as scapulothoracic bursitis, will determine the Nationals’ next plans with their ace. A good prognosis means his return to action could come either Thursday or Friday.
“Tomorrow will be a big day. If Max comes in and says he has no issues, then we’ll go from there,” said manager Dave Martinez. “If he feels good, then he’ll pitch at the end of this week sometime.”
Scherzer, for his part, was in good spirits in the clubhouse and emphasized how eager he is to take part in the postseason race, more than ready to provide some stability to a rotation that has used a rotating cast of characters to fill both his and the up-for-grabs No. 5 rotation spot.
“Really anxious. I really want to get going,” Scherzer said. “Everything feels good. Ball is coming out of my hand exactly the way it should feel like. I’m at 100 percent. Hopefully I can pitch here really soon.”
As for when that exact date is -- either Thursday’s series finale against the Rockies or Friday’s series opener against the Dodgers, assuming Tuesday’s report is positive -- Scherzer has to leave it up to Martinez and his training staff.
“I hope for the sooner the better,” Scherzer said. “I don’t know. That’s their call, but the sooner the better.”
Scherzer has not pitched since July 6 because of what was initially considered to be a middle back strain, but he was ultimately diagnosed with the scapulothoracic bursitis last week. After being administered a cortisone shot this past Monday, Scherzer, who lobbied to start Sunday against the Braves, cautiously progressed to what he hopes was his final hurdle on Monday.
Scherzer said there has been no real impact on his muscles or his strength, which is good news for someone experiencing this condition for the first time.
“Because I’ve never dealt with it, none of the muscles were very strained. … I was able to keep my strength, and that’s just from all the work that you do as a pitcher every five days,” Scherzer said. “Your scaps are such a huge part in maintaining your strength from the back side, so that you keep your shoulder healthy. This injury was unrelated to the actual muscles. This was bursitis, which was completely different from dealing with any tendinitis or muscle-type things.”