Former D-back Scherzer returns to Chase Field
PHOENIX -- Brad Ausmus was at Max Scherzer's Major League debut -- in the opposing dugout.
When Scherzer made his first appearance for the D-backs on April 29, 2008, Ausmus was on the Astros' bench.
"He came in in relief and dominated," Ausmus said. "I wasn't playing that day, luckily for him."
Scherzer made the Astros look foolish that day. In 4 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, he didn't give up a hit and struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced.
"I remember seeing Max his first appearance thinking, 'This guy's got an explosive fastball,' which is easy to recognize," Ausmus said. "Obviously, his fastball is a swing-and-miss fastball, which is … actually a commodity at the Major League level. You don't see a lot of swing-and-miss fastballs.
"Most Major League hitters get in a 2-0 count and they know a fastball's coming, they're going to get some portion of the bat to the fastball, generally speaking. Max is one of those few pitchers who, in fastball counts, can throw a fastball and still throw it by people."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was the bench coach for Arizona when Scherzer made his debut, and he recognized the pitcher's potential early on as well.
"He's always had an electric arm and he still has an extra gear on his fastball, but his secondary stuff is so, so much better and he knows how to use it," Gibson said. "He's got a great career ahead of him. I hated to lose him."
Scherzer has played the D-backs before, pitching seven innings of one-run ball against them in Detroit on June 20, 2010. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Scherzer won't face his former team while the Tigers are in Arizona, but he's still had some new experiences at his old home ballpark.
"It's strange coming into the park and coming into this side of the clubhouse. Never done that before," he said. "It's fun to be back."
Although he hasn't played for the D-backs since 2009, Scherzer still has a house in Phoenix -- an added bonus to playing the D-backs on the road.
"I get to sleep in my own bed," Scherzer said. "First time during the season I've ever had that opportunity."
Despite being traded in the three-team deal that sent Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to Arizona, Scherzer doesn't hold any grudges toward the D-backs. Since he was dealt to the Tigers, he has blossomed from a prospect into a bona fide Major League ace.
"I don't have that mentality at all," Scherzer said. "I'm so happy to be in Detroit, I don't look back and have regrets or anything. I enjoyed my time in Arizona. They treated me right; they treated me well. … And obviously, business is business. I got traded to Detroit, and I've absolutely loved it here."