Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Scherzer throws live BP using new fastball grip

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner faces hitters for first time this spring
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Max Scherzer threw a live batting practice session on Tuesday afternoon, the first time he has faced hitters this spring. He simulated game action as best he could: going through his warmup routine, moving toward first base on a ground ball to his left and taking a break between his two sessions to simulate the Nationals' half-inning at the plate.

Scherzer, who is still feeling the effects from a stress fracture in the lower knuckle of his right ring finger, completed the 44-pitch session using his modified fastball grip, placing three fingers on the ball instead of the usual two. The Nationals have not determined the next step for Scherzer, but live batting practice is usually one of the final steps before a pitcher is ready for some kind of game action.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Max Scherzer threw a live batting practice session on Tuesday afternoon, the first time he has faced hitters this spring. He simulated game action as best he could: going through his warmup routine, moving toward first base on a ground ball to his left and taking a break between his two sessions to simulate the Nationals' half-inning at the plate.

Scherzer, who is still feeling the effects from a stress fracture in the lower knuckle of his right ring finger, completed the 44-pitch session using his modified fastball grip, placing three fingers on the ball instead of the usual two. The Nationals have not determined the next step for Scherzer, but live batting practice is usually one of the final steps before a pitcher is ready for some kind of game action.

"See how he feels tomorrow," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "And have to entertain maybe a game."

Maddux wanted to evaluate Scherzer on Wednesday before he decided whether that would be a Grapefruit League game or some kind of simulated game. Still, this represented an encouraging sign, even if Scherzer is still using the modified fastball grip. By placing his third finger on top of the ball, he is able to protect his knuckle from any stress and pitch pain-free. And although a grip with three fingers is usually reserved for offspeed pitches, Scherzer says he has not felt a decrease in fastball velocity.

"Yeah, it looked the same. I couldn't tell he was using three fingers," manager Dusty Baker said. "I was seeing if I could really see it on the ball, but his arm speed is such where you really can't pick it up."

"The way I look at it, this is actually giving me a chance to heal and throw," Scherzer said. "Because if they didn't let me do this, then I'd be sitting here trying to test the two-finger grip left and right and probably hurt it even more."

Earlier in camp, after testing out his normal two-finger fastball grip, Scherzer said he and the Nats decided they would wait until his finger was completely healed before he tried it again. Once Baker and Maddux saw Scherzer playing long toss with the new grip, it did not take much convincing to allow him to try it on the mound.

"I watched him play catch and he was airing it out and I'm like, '[Man], arm looks good,'" Maddux said. "Then we got on the mound and did it and it was like he had done it his whole life."

Scherzer admitted it was strange to be throwing a fastball that way, but he was willing to do it and he said it beats sitting on the sideline.

"I feel like it's coming out pretty good," Scherzer said. "Whatever I do in a game or [when] we get a radar gun, that'll be a tell-tale sign of where I'm at."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer