PITTSBURGH — Max Scherzer went back on the injured list Wednesday, but he already has a return date in mind: Sept. 19, the first day he is eligible to be activated, when the Mets open a series in Milwaukee.
That would mean just two missed starts for Scherzer, whose left side fatigue that forced him out of his outing over the weekend now is being referred to by the Mets as left side irritation.
“This is days, not weeks. That’s the first and foremost thing. This is not a significant injury,” said Scherzer, who added that he expects to resume throwing in a few days. “My left side feels achy. It’s not a strain. I don’t have one specific spot you can point to where that hurts. No, it’s just general fatigue on the whole left side. The first time when I did this, I had one specific spot. That’s not what this is. That’s the good in this.”
The “first time” was a full-blown strain of his left oblique in May that sidelined him for seven weeks. Not only is this not that, according to Scherzer, but they’re not even related as far as the Mets can tell. He said he was “shocked” to be dealing with another issue involving the same part of his body, especially since he hadn’t felt any discomfort there — until Saturday.
Scherzer said then that it was no big deal, he was not injured and he expected to make his next start, which would have been Friday against the Marlins. But then his left side didn’t recover the way he expected. He wound up getting an MRI on Tuesday.
“It basically showed exactly what I’ve been describing. I got some inflammation there on my left side. I just need a few days of no throwing, no activity on that,” he said. “It was even borderline whether I even needed to go to the IL because you knew you were going to miss one [start]. Whether I was going to miss two or not, they just took the ball out of my court and said you’re going to miss two. That’s how it went down.”
Manager Buck Showalter said: “It was actually pretty good news, all things considered, that there wasn’t something torn or where he had it last time. The idea is to get it resolved so that he can finish the season strong and be ready for whatever the [post]season holds for us.”
The other variable: The Mets needed the roster spot, especially since Scherzer was not going to pitch for about 10 days (out of the 15-day IL minimum).
They called up Alex Claudio, a sidearming lefthanded reliever who had a 4.30 ERA with Triple-A Syracuse. They also designated Adonis Medina for assignment to clear space for Claudio on the 40-man roster.
“Because of the irritation on the side here, I’m not going to be able to make the start,” Scherzer said. “They needed to get another arm up here, so that’s why I’m going on the IL [backdated to Sunday].”
Showalter did not name a starter in Scherzer’s stead for Friday. Lefthander David Peterson and righthander Trevor Williams are the primary options.
Already, this has lasted longer than Scherzer and the Mets anticipated. But he was insistent that it wouldn’t last much longer.
“I had a little hiccup, tried to work around it. I didn’t let it become something big. Just became a bigger hiccup,” he said. “Everybody in there believes that this is going to resolve itself really, really quickly — in a matter of days — and that this is not a long-term injury.”