New York Mets ace Max Scherzer threw a three-inning, 50-pitch simulated game on Thursday at Citi Field, facing live batters for the first time since straining his left oblique back on May 18.
“I made it,” he said prior to his team’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night. “Did it exactly the way I thought I was going to do it with the second inning being the highest intensity.
“Felt good the entire time dealing pitches, everything felt good.”
If everything remains feeling fine after his work Thursday, Scherzer will be sent to one of the Mets’ minor-league affiliates for a rehab start scheduled for Tuesday.
Whether that’s with Double-A Binghamton or Triple-A Syracuse — both of whom are playing games in upstate New York next week — remains to be seen. So does the number of rehab starts he’ll need as he’s not willing to try and even forecast it.
“It’s too hard to speculate because you hit the next level, you might stress it too much,” he said. “You don’t want to start thinking farther ahead than what you can. This is a tricky injury. I’d love to tell you I can do one rehab start and I’ll feel great and come back. I’d love to do that.
“Is it possible? Yes. But the reality is I could very easily have a rehab start, have it be tight, and when I actually do it again before I’m in a big-league game. Very aware of working back through this injury and really focused on not having a setback.”
Such cognizance is what eases a bit of anxiety for the Mets’ ever-superstitious manager, Buck Showalter.
“Well, I watched the first inning and a half and it looked like it was going well, so I left,” he said. “I’ll tell you one thing about Max; you don’t have to worry about [him]…he simulated a game very well. He was into it. You could tell how much he enjoyed being back out on the mound here at Citi Field. I thought it went well, and hopefully, he feels well tomorrow and we’re able to take the next step.”
The return of Scherzer would be a massive boost to a Mets pitching staff that has managed to stay afloat despite being without the three-time Cy Young Award winner since mid-May and his two-time Cy Young-winning counterpart in Jacob deGrom this season.
Watching his first-place team atop its perch with a surging Atlanta Braves club closing the gap, though, the surprisingly-patient Scherzer flashed the trademark intensity that has helped put him on a Hall-of-Fame track.
“If I can get back here throwing 70-80 pitches,” he began, “give me the ball.”
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