ATLANTA -- It appears Max Scherzer is just about completely recovered from his back injury. Scherzer played catch once again Sunday afternoon prior to the Nats’ series finale against the Braves, and his final test should come when the team returns to D.C. on Monday, when Scherzer is scheduled to throw an extended bullpen session.
Even with Monday’s impending bullpen session, general manager Mike Rizzo said he is “reasonably confident” Scherzer will be able to return from the injured list this week and rejoin the rotation, potentially to start the Nationals’ series finale against the Rockies Thursday at Nationals Park.
Scherzer has not pitched since July 6 because of what was initially considered to be a mid-back strain, but diagnosed this week as inflammation in the bursa under his right shoulder, a condition known as scapulothoracic bursitis. After being administered a cortisone shot on Monday, Scherzer woke up feeling much improved Saturday afternoon, so good that he threw 15 pitches off a mound.
Scherzer even lobbied to start Sunday’s series finale at SunTrust Park. The club decided to be cautious but seemed confident that their ace was prepared to put the issue behind him.
“From my understanding and what they’re saying, it’s nothing that will limit him in the future,” manager Dave Martinez said. “But it’s just kind of getting it out of there. That’s been the biggest thing and how we had to explain it to Max, because Max, he wanted to go. And we said, ‘Let’s just make sure this thing’s out and that you feel really good.’”
Nats put Voth on injured list
To make room for Joe Ross, who was called up to make a spot start Sunday night, the Nationals put right-hander Austin Voth on the injured list, retroactive to Thursday, with right biceps tendinitis.
Voth had been battling some tightness in the biceps during the past few weeks, but he had been pitching through it, even though it took longer for him to loosen his arm up. When he tried to play catch earlier this week in Atlanta, it started feeling more like a pinch and the discomfort was too much when he tried to throw a bullpen.
“Tried to kind of work through it, but it didn’t feel right at all,” Voth said. “In seven years in professional baseball, I haven’t had pain in the front of my shoulder, so I was kind of frustrated by it.”
Voth was shut down from throwing this weekend, but he will attempt to play some light catch when the team returns to D.C. Martinez did not believe Voth’s injury would require him to miss extended time, which is fortunate for him considering he had the inside track on keeping the fifth-starter job. He has a 4.35 ERA with 20 strikeouts and six walks in four starts for Washington this season.
“Yeah, I was very conflicted with the situation,” Voth said. “I mean, I want to go out there and pitch, but I don’t want to go out there not 100 percent and just put the game on the line just because I want to fight through something when I should maybe sit back and let it kind of take my time and rest.”
The Nationals had planned to call up reliever Michael Blazek for Sunday’s game, as MLB.com reported Saturday night, but elected to keep reliever Kyle McGowin on the roster instead to provide some length in the bullpen behind Ross.