After new addition, Scherzer hopes to subtract last year's oblique issues
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As Max Scherzer followed the Mets’ busy offseason, he had another roster addition of his own, with the birth of his daughter, Nikki, at the end of January. That’s now four children in the Scherzer household, along with four dogs, so throwing his first bullpen session Wednesday was tranquil by comparison.
“It’s a circus,” said Scherzer, who commutes to Clover Park from his Jupiter home. “I work two jobs now.”
With so much swirling around Scherzer, he still entertained the idea of joining Team USA for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, which would have pulled him away from the Mets for as long as three weeks. But after a phone call with Jeff Jones, his former pitching coach with the Tigers who served the same role for Team USA under Jim Leyland, Scherzer had a change of heart.
“I told him everything that was going on and asked him, Hey should I do it?” Scherzer said. “As soon as he says yes, I’m doing it. And he said no. From where everything is at, he thought it would be best for me not to participate. That’d be the best thing for my career. Once Jeff Jones said no, then it’s a no.”
Clearly, Scherzer, 38, already has enough on his plate. Entering season two of his three-year, $130 million deal, Scherzer is hoping to avoid the oblique issues that twice sidelined him during his Mets’ debut and limited him to only 23 starts.
“This whole offseason I’ve been thinking about, why did that oblique go the second time?” Scherzer said. “The first time I understand. That’s completely on me. I was pitching through some tightness and didn’t say anything. Whereas the second time, that came out of nowhere. I had no precursor to what happened. So you’re focused on legs, hips, everything, to keep that at bay. Come up with the right exercises to make sure that’s nice and strong and durable.”
One thing Scherzer isn’t all that concerned about is the pitch clock, which is new this season and already has teams scrambling to adjust. On the contrary, Scherzer sees the timer as an ally rather than an adversary.
“It plays right into my hand,” Scherzer said. “I’ve always wanted to work quick. The only reason I haven’t been able to work quick is because the hitter can always call timeout. So the fact that the hitter can only call timeout once an at-bat, now I can actually dictate pace. Now I can actually force actions. So for me, I’m definitely going to like doing that ... There’s definitely going to be a learning curve to it, but I think at the end of the day, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to be able to do.”