Craig Calcaterra

Max Scherzer

In Year Two with Nationals, Scherzer feels like mentor, geezer

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WASHINGTON (AP) Max Scherzer sees himself as something of a mentor as he heads into his second season with the Washington Nationals.

He also sees himself as something of a geezer.

“It feels different in Year 2, because I’m realizing how much older I am than all these other guys. At 31, you feel pretty old in that clubhouse when you’ve got 23-year-olds in there that barely even know the O.J. trial even happened,” Scherzer said Friday with a hearty chuckle. “That’s the stuff I’m dealing with.”

He spoke to reporters at Nationals Park before Washington beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 Friday night in the first of a pair of exhibition games that are serving as a final tuneup before the regular season begins.

A mix of boos and cheers greeted Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon when he entered in the ninth for a 1-2-3 save, his first appearance on the Washington mound since he infamously grabbed eventual NL MVP Bryce Harper by the throat during a dugout dustup in September, resulting in a suspension.

Washington left fielder Jayson Werth had trouble with the first two fly balls hit his way Friday, and Ben Revere delivered a triple and double in his first two Nationals Park at-bats as a member of the home team. Harper drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and later doubled.

Scherzer will be the starter on opening day for the Nationals when they play at the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

The last time Scherzer took the mound in a game that counted, he threw a no-hitter against the New York Mets on Oct. 3, while striking out a franchise-record 17 batters. That made him only the sixth pitcher in major league history to toss a pair of no-nos in the same season – he also did it against the Pittsburgh Pirates in June.

The right-hander signed a $210 million, seven-year contract as a free agent before last season, then went 14-12 with a 2.79 ERA. Still, he lamented an increase in homers allowed and vowed to work on that.

“I really like where I’m going into the season right now, where all my offspeed pitches are at. I feel like with all of them, I’m able to throw them for strikes, and when I need to expand (the zone) with them, I’m able to right now,” Scherzer said Friday.

“From a stuff standpoint, I really like where everything is moving. Now it’s just a matter of going out there and making sure I attack the zone and work ahead in the count,” he said. “That’s easier said than done. I know that. If I want to be successful, I’ve got to do it.”

He plays a role for the Nationals off the field, too.

New manager Dusty Baker called Scherzer “our energy guy.”

Rotation-mate Stephen Strasburg credits Scherzer with helping improve between-start preparation.

The way Scherzer “does his homework on hitters” rubbed off, Strasburg said.

“Not to knock anybody else I played with, but he was kind of one of the first guys who really made it a point to prepare, go over a scouting report, and not just rely on your stuff,” Strasburg said. “So that was good – I learned a lot from that.”

 

A.J. Pollock fractures his elbow on slide into home, will require surgery

Arizona Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock grabs his arm after scoring on a hit by David Peralta during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday, April 1, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Associated Press
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The Arizona Diamondbacks sustained a huge blow last night when All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow with a head-first slide into home plate during an exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals. Manager Chip Hale said Pollock would require surgery.

Pollock was to be a big part of a Diamondbacks team many were expecting to make great strides in 2016. Last year he was fantastic, hitting .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers, 39 doubles and 39 stolen bases all while playing Gold Glove defense in center field. This year, with Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt leading the offensive attack and Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller shoring up the pitching staff, many assumed the Dbacks would be playoff contenders.

Now that’s all uncertain, as one of the best players in the game will be on the shelf for an extended period of time. How much time? It’s unclear now. The Dbacks said they will know more about the extent of the fracture today but, for now, there is no timetable for his return. It’s worth noting that Pollock fractured the same elbow in spring training in 2010 and missed the entire season.

After the game, manager Chip Hale said “We feel awful for A.J. We’re a family. It’s like one of your family members taken away from you right now.” He also talked about the circumstances of the play, saying “If he goes feet-first, he’d be OK, but the problem is the way the play played out. If he goes feet-first, he might have gotten his leg broke by the catcher. It’s just unfortunate.”

Hale doesn’t have the luxury of dwelling on it, however, as Opening Day is Monday evening at home against the Rockies. For now 23-year-old Socrates Brito will likely replace Pollock. Brito has 18 games and 34 major league plate appearances under his belt. Apart from that late season call up, he has never played above Double-A. Chris Ownings could see some time covering for Pollock too. If Pollock is to miss the season and Brito proves insufficient, the DBacks could look to make a trade, of course.

Sad news all around. Here’s the play if you want to see it. It’s not graphic or gross or anything. Just really unfortunate.

 

Parker undergoes successful surgery on his right elbow

Jarrod Parker
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Oakland right-hander Jarrod Parker underwent successful surgery on his right elbow, the Athletics announced before Friday night’s exhibition game with the San Francisco Giants.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Neil ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Dr. ElAttrache, using Parker’s revision UCL graft that was done two years ago, reconstructed the medial compartment of Parker’s elbow, including reconstructing the flexor tendon and ulnar collateral ligament complex. Parker returns to Arizona on Saturday.

Parker had his second Tommy John surgery in March of 2014 and hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2013 AL Division Series. He re-fractured his medial epicondyle during a simulated game on March 10 after originally fracturing it last May while pitching for Triple-A Nashville.

His previous revised UCL did not need repairing and the avulsed medial epicondyle fracture was cleaned up and repaired.