Max Scherzer a happy camper as he springs into action for Mets
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — For the past few months and especially the past few weeks, Max Scherzer lived three separate, busy, complicated lives.
He was Max Scherzer the righthanded pitcher, preparing physically for his first season with the Mets, who in November signed him to the biggest free-agent contract in franchise history. He also was Max Scherzer the South Florida family man, husband to Erica and father to their three young children. And he was Max Scherzer the member of the Players Association executive subcommittee, perhaps the player face of the heated labor negotiations with MLB.
Finally, mercifully, the responsibility-heavy portion of the latter of those lives concluded Thursday when owners and players agreed on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, ending the lockout that delayed spring training and Opening Day.
"I get my life back," he said.
That life now includes daily commutes to the team’s Clover Park facility, where he spoke Saturday after throwing his first official bullpen session as a Met. Pitching to Tomas Nido with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and analyst Jack Bredeson looking on, Scherzer threw a routine 40-plus pitches, the main event on an otherwise quiet day at camp.
With just three-plus weeks from the mandatory report date on Sunday to April 5, when the Mets will head to Washington to open the season two days later, this spring training will be a weird and short one.
Scherzer, however, said he probably will be stretched out to the normal 100 pitches by the start of the regular season. He already has thrown three innings/50 pitches in a simulated game at the training facility he frequents in the offseason.
He isn’t too far from where he usually would be in mid-March. And he has felt "no ill effects," he said, after experiencing fatigue in his right arm with the Dodgers in the postseason last year.
"This is not a normal spring training. You gotta adapt," he said. "You gotta know what your schedule is and know where you’re at and how to navigate it and know where your body is at. I got all the experience in the world. I’m old. I’m one of the dinosaurs in the game. I know where I need to be at."
Scherzer, 37, said he doesn’t feel old, though.
"I feel young, actually. I feel great," he said. "I’m definitely getting balder. That’s not the fun part."
The Mets expect to partner Scherzer with Jacob deGrom, who is set to arrive Sunday, to form the best-top-of-the-rotation duo in the majors. But when it comes to drawing the Opening Day assignment, Scherzer sounded as if he is ready to defer to the homegrown ace.
"I don’t care," said Scherzer, who has started the first game of the season six times. "He’s the reason I’m here. I want to be here and pitch with great pitchers. He’s obviously one of them."
Scherzer also is enthused about playing for new manager Buck Showalter, whom he recommended to Mets management when he signed despite not having met him until this past couple of days. Showalter reminds Scherzer of Jim Leyland, his manager in Detroit.
"Jim Leyland is one of my favorite managers of all time," he said. "I really loved him, and I think Buck is going to be right up there with him."
As for the CBA, Scherzer declined to comment on the specifics, saying he will do so "at a later time." He added: "We gotta realize, we got baseball back. The fans want to hear us talk about baseball."
How did he celebrate when the negotiations were over? He paused while deciding what to say.
"I drank a lot," he said with a big smile.
When a reporter inquired about his beverage of choice, he repeated: "I drank a lot."