JUPITER, Fla. -- Dusty Baker said the Nationals have not determined the next step for Max Scherzer, after he faced hitters for the first time this season Tuesday during a live batting practice session.Baker was feeling encouraged prior to Wednesday morning's game against the Cardinals because Scherzer's name did not
JUPITER, Fla. -- Dusty Baker said the Nationals have not determined the next step for Max Scherzer, after he faced hitters for the first time this season Tuesday during a live batting practice session.
Baker was feeling encouraged prior to Wednesday morning's game against the Cardinals because Scherzer's name did not appear on the daily injury report he receives from the team training staff. Scherzer is not completely healed from the stress fracture in his right ring finger, but he is able to pitch without any pain by using a modified three-finger grip on his fastball.
"We don't know what the next step is," Baker said. "Like I said, we got to wait a couple days and see if he comes out of this being sore or not. So is it normal soreness or is it the same situation? ... I'm just hoping Max is well."
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Pitching coach Mike Maddux hinted that the next step for Scherzer could be a game if he came out of Tuesday's live batting practice without issue, however, he did not specify whether that could be a Grapefruit League game or simulated game. The Nationals will be extra sure to build Scherzer's stamina before the season considering he is one of the pitchers they rely on to last deep in games. His 228 1/3 innings last season were the most in the National League.
• Wilmer Difo has been doing work in the outfield this spring as the Nats attempt to turn him into a utility player and increase his versatility. However, Baker was not ready to commit to Difo being ready to play the outfield in the Majors just yet, and said he still has something to prove to the coaching staff.
"We love Difo, but we don't love mistakes because they can cost you," Baker said. "So far it's been mistakes on the bases and it's happened more than a couple times. So it's like we're in a process of rounding him out to be a ballplayer, not just a hitter or the speed. If you want to win and you want to play winning baseball, you got to eliminate mistakes."
• Matt Wieters caught another round of bullpen's at the team's complex in West Palm Beach on Wednesday. The Nationals have not set a date for him to appear in games, but Baker said he would like to get him into games at some point before the coming off-day on Tuesday. Baker said he will then start figuring out a way to get Wieters enough at-bats to be ready for the season while also trying to incorporate Derek Norris, Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino into games.
"This is kind of putting me behind the eight-ball a little bit," Baker said. "But I'll figure it out."
• Baker said he and his staff discussed when the Nationals might make their first round of roster moves on Wednesday morning, which he estimated will come sometime before the coming off-day on Tuesday.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.