Mets pitcher Max Scherzer during today’s spring training game against...

Mets pitcher Max Scherzer during today’s spring training game against the Washington Nationals, Sunday Feb. 26, 2023 in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Max Scherzer, a master of mind games, already likes the majors’ new pitch clock.

After pitching with it for the first time Sunday, throwing two innings in the Mets’ 6-3 exhibition win over the Nationals, Scherzer expressed enthusiasm about his ability to use the new rules against opposing lineups. He especially is a fan of a hitter being allowed to call timeout only once in a plate appearance.

“The power the pitcher has now, I can completely dictate pace,” Scherzer said. “I can work extremely quick or I can work extremely slow. There’s another layer here to be able to mess with the hitters’ timing.”

The implementation of a pitch clock — 15 seconds with the bases empty, 20 seconds with a runner on base — has turned spring training into a time of experimentation and clarification. Scherzer said he always has enjoyed pitching at a quick tempo.

A pitcher can’t pitch until the hitter is looking at him. Hitters must be in the box and looking at the pitcher by the eight-second mark. Upon completing his second inning, Scherzer approached plate umpire David Rackley to make sure his interpretation is correct: He can throw whenever the batter is ready, right?

“I had that conversation with the umpire to make sure that is legal, and that is,” he said. “I already have the pitch called. We already know it. I can come set. I can’t fire until his eyes are up on me. But if his eyes are on me with [for example] 12 seconds left, I can fire.”

Further speeding up the proceedings: Scherzer used a PitchCom on the back of his glove, also for the first time. When introduced last year, the device belonged to the catcher, allowing him to call pitches electronically. Now the pitcher has one as well.

“[The catcher is] calling the game, but when I had an instinct, when I knew I wanted to throw a pitch in a location, I can just call it in and work extremely fast and use that to my advantage,” said Scherzer, who struck out five, walked none and allowed one run and three hits.

It was his first time working with catcher Omar Narvaez. Adjusting to a new batterymate typically takes a couple of months, according to Scherzer.

“We have to find a time when the catcher is right and I’m wrong. And then there’s a time when I’m right and the catcher is wrong,” he said. “You get through that, then you get on the same page. That’s not usually till June.”

Mauricio’s moonshots

Ronny Mauricio cracked a 450-foot homer off Washington’s Anthony Castro in the eighth inning Sunday. Asked if he’d ever hit one that far, Mauricio noted that he’d done even better — 507 feet, he said, last year for Double-A Binghamton in a game in Somerset.

Still just 21, Mauricio has seen Grapefruit League action in five different spring trainings, but this year feels different.

“I have more experience and I have more confidence,” he said through an interpreter. “Just being here, I kind of feel like a big-leaguer already.”

Newest new guy

Jaylin Davis, signed to a minor-league contract, arrived at Mets camp Sunday. Davis, 28, has extensive experience at all three outfield spots in the minors and has played 38 games over bits of four major-league seasons with the Giants and Red Sox.

The Mets have a shortage of highly ranked outfield prospects and have brought in veterans such as Davis, former Yankee Tim Locastro, Abraham Almonte and DJ Stewart to help provide depth.

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