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Scherzer solid, strikes out 3 in 2-inning debut

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Max Scherzer began Spring Training by throwing 60-pitch bullpen sessions, so surely his 23-pitch outing during Sunday's 9-3 victory over the Braves was a breeze?

"No," Scherzer said, with a laugh. "It's amazing once you put a real game out there and you put somebody with a different uniform -- everything gets turned up a little bit."

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Max Scherzer began Spring Training by throwing 60-pitch bullpen sessions, so surely his 23-pitch outing during Sunday's 9-3 victory over the Braves was a breeze?

"No," Scherzer said, with a laugh. "It's amazing once you put a real game out there and you put somebody with a different uniform -- everything gets turned up a little bit."

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Scherzer tossed a pair of crisp innings in his Grapefruit League debut. He surrendered one hit -- a solo home run off the bat of Dansby Swanson -- but otherwise got through unscathed, with three strikeouts. Even though Scherzer has been throwing extended bullpen sessions, he acknowledged he felt fatigued by the end of his outing, but he was happy to have the chance to work through it.

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Always the perfectionist, Scherzer was disappointed that he did not get any work pitching from the stretch Sunday.

"You don't get a lot out of Spring Training starts when you're constantly pitching out of the windup," he said. "This is when you want to be pitching out of the stretch and have to dig through an inning and have to go back out there, because that's the stuff that goes on during the year. You have to have that in the spring ... it's something that I'm sure will be happening next time out."

During his first few weeks on the job as Nats manager, Dave Martinez has been impressed by the constant competition Scherzer seems to be involved in, whether it comes on the mound, during bullpens or hitting.

Video: Martinez on Scherzer's first start of the spring

Scherzer is coming off consecutive National League Cy Young Awards (he has three overall in his career) and has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. But Scherzer is not one to rest on his accomplishments. He is constantly searching for ways to improve.

Lupica: Scherzer is MLB's top ace

A year ago, Scherzer focused on refining his slider and it resulted in a better year in 2017 than the year prior. However, Scherzer declined to give insight into what he was working on for this season, so as to not give hitters any edge.

"I found that's when I get beat," Scherzer said. "So hopefully I can keep it a secret for as long as I can."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer