PHILADELPHIA -- Two days after being scratched from his scheduled start Saturday, Max Scherzer threw a 40-pitch bullpen session without any immediate issues prior to Monday's series opener against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Though the right-hander said he felt fine as he walked off the field, he wanted to wait to see how his right triceps responded over the next few hours. Scherzer noted that it flared up last time around first pitch after a pregame throwing session seemingly went OK.
"He threw the ball well, but he likes that recovery period," said manager Dave Martinez. "I talked to him after and he said in a few hours he'll know, more or less, how he feels. He likes to take that grace period and recover. But the ball came out really well, he threw well and he felt good."
Scherzer's bullpen session came on the same day that co-ace Stephen Strasburg was scheduled to meet with a neck specialist, though Martinez said he doesn't expect to get those results until Tuesday.
As for Scherzer, the other hurdle he'll need to clear will be swinging the bat. He said he initially felt the discomfort in his triceps after taking batting practice on July 20 and the issue is related to hitting, not pitching. An MRI taken over the weekend came back clean.
If all goes well, Scherzer could be slotted in to start Thursday's series finale in Philadelphia. Washington is scheduled to go with Erick Fedde on Tuesday and Patrick Corbin on Wednesday, with Thursday's starter still undecided.
Of course, Scherzer's health isn't the only potential obstacle to him making his next start. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2019 World Series champion has been a popular name in rumors leading up to Friday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
"He just wants to compete," Martinez said. "As far as he's concerned, he's competing for us on Thursday, and that's what he worries about."
The Nationals entered Monday's game eight games back from the first-place Mets in the NL East. While that obviously carries the potential for the Nats to listen to offers for various players -- not just Scherzer -- leading up to Friday's Deadline, Martinez is confident his club can tune out the chatter.
"I want them to focus on today. Nobody knows what's going to happen an hour from now, nevertheless tomorrow or the next day," Martinez said prior to the opener. "We've got a game to play today. We want to go 1-0 today against the Phillies. Let's focus on the here and now."