Scherzer’s knuckle caus­ing pain; open­ing day in doubt

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS -

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. >> Nei­ther Max Scherzer nor Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker is cer­tain the reign­ing NL Cy Young Award win­ner will be ready to pitch when open­ing day rolls around.

That’s be­cause Scherzer is deal­ing with pain from a bro­ken knuckle on the ring fin­ger of his throw­ing hand, an in­jury that arose late sea­son but wasn’t di­ag­nosed un­til De­cem­ber. Baker said he’s think­ing about con­tin­gency plans just in case his ace can’t pitch when Wash­ing­ton starts the reg­u­lar sea­son April 3.

“I’ve dealt with aches and pains and strains. This is a whole dif­fer­ent ball­game,” Scherzer said Thurs­day. “When you start deal­ing with a frac­ture, rest is re­ally your only op­tion to make ev­ery­thing heal.”

Thurs­day was the first day of of­fi­cial work­outs for Wash­ing­ton’s pitch­ers and catch­ers at the team’s new spring train­ing fa­cil­ity. While oth­ers such as Stephen Stras­burg, Tan­ner Roark or Gio Gon­za­lez stood atop a mound for a 10-minute bullpen ses­sion, Scherzer threw else­where.

Only this week did Scherzer start throw­ing base­balls at all in prepa­ra­tion for the 2017 sea­son, and that was “with a mod­i­fied grip, but not my true grip,” he ex­plained. Be­fore that re­cent step in the right di­rec­tion, the righty was stick­ing to toss­ing ten­nis or lacrosse balls, be­cause they were smaller and not as painful.

Scherzer called the prob­lem with the bot­tom knuckle on his ring fin­ger “es­sen­tially healed,” but he did not of­fer an an­swer when asked whether he’ll be ready for open­ing day.

“I don’t even want to com­ment on it, be­cause I don’t even know what I’m go­ing to be able to do or not,” Scherzer said. “It’d be un­fair for me to even project or even talk about that.”

Mad­dux dons beard for prank, fools Cubs’ Bryant with curve

LAS VE­GAS >> Greg Mad­dux fooled plenty of hit­ters dur­ing his ca­reer — but maybe never in a dis­guise.

In a video posted Thurs­day, the Hall of Fame pitcher donned a fake beard and posed as a sound guy throw­ing his trade­mark curve­ball dur­ing a round of bat­ting prac­tice with un­sus­pect­ing Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant.

The prank’s premise: Mad­dux pa­tiently held a boom mic and of­fered oc­ca­sional swing cri­tiques dur­ing a video shoot while Bryant took cuts against an­other pitcher who left, al­low­ing Mad­dux to step in.

“This sound guy’s got a good curve­ball — what is this?” asked Bryant, laugh­ing.

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