Prepared Max Scherzer throws five innings in his Mets spring training debut
JUPITER, Fla. — Max Scherzer’s spring training Mets debut on Monday was exactly how he desired: successfully unremarkable.
On a picture-perfect afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium — where he spent many hours late last month trying to help negotiate a new labor contract to end the lockout, an activity that was significantly less fun than pitching — Scherzer allowed one run in five innings against a lineup of most of the Marlins’ starters.
He struck out five and walked none. Of the three hits Miami managed, one was a bunt and one was a bloop. He threw 72 pitches (55 strikes).
Pretty good for his soft opening in a Mets uniform after signing a three-year, $130 million contract in November.
“It’s no shock to anybody this guy is ready to go,” catcher Tomas Nido said after the Mets’ 3-0 exhibition loss. “He’s here to win and he lets it be known.”
Scherzer added: “Got my work in, didn’t walk anybody, attacked the zone, a lot of first-pitch strikes. That’s all the good stuff.”
And manager Buck Showalter: “It is obvious he was doing some work during the lockout, so that was a good day, even though we didn’t score more runs than they did. Max got his work in and he is where he needs to be.”
A starting pitcher throwing five innings in his first Grapefruit League game of camp is highly unusual. But it was normal and expected given what Scherzer already had done. He showed up to Mets camp at three innings, then progressed to four during a simulated game last week.
Scherzer is due for two more spring training outings, and they likewise will be a tad unorthodox. He said he plans to go about 90 pitches next time, then get all the way to 100 in his final tuneup before the regular season.
Pitchers often pull back a bit at the end of camp, making an abbreviated appearance so as to not push their luck or their bodies before games actually matter. Not Scherzer.
“I want to experience 100 pitches, maybe be tired on that 100th pitch,” Scherzer said, “so then when it’s Opening Day, your first start, I can tell Buck, ‘I’ve been to 100 and I know where my line is at.’ It’s a much more honest conversation at that point in time.”
That is fine with Showalter.
“He came in with a plan and he’s got a track record,” he said of the three-time Cy Young Award winner. “It’s not his first time around. Can you imagine me going, ‘All right, hold on, Max, we got a better idea’? Of course not.”
Scherzer has worked with Nido, the Mets’ backup backstop, “a lot” more than he has worked with starter James McCann, he said. That is because near the end of the lockout, Nido on several occasions visited Scherzer at his offseason workout spot, Cressey Sports Performance in nearby Palm Beach Gardens, and caught simulated games. Cressey is a winter hot spot for professional ballplayers who live in the area.
“I reached out to him and I said if you need somebody there to just get on the same page and get going, let me know and I’ll drive up,” Nido said. “And the lockout kept extending, so we got a few more reps in.”
Scherzer said: “We’ve worked some hitters, worked some sequences. He kind of understands what I want to do.”
Is he more comfortable with Nido than McCann?
“No,” Scherzer said. “I’ll throw to any catcher. Buck puts any catcher in there, I’ll make it work. I don’t play that game.”