Max Scherzer faced live batters for the first time as a member of the New York Mets, throwing a four-inning simulated outing on Wednesday.
It’s best advised that everyone buckles up.
“It was a complete crash course for me trying to get everybody up to speed on how I think and throw pitches,” Scherzer said. “That’s just the process of how this goes.”
One of the most important aspects of his assimilation to life in Queens is his relationship with starting catcher James McCann. The two were briefly teammates with the Detroit Tigers back in 2014, but they don’t share the kind of rapport that will be needed between a battery.
“I’ve become a much different pitcher than I was back then,” Scherzer said of working with McCann. “Just going through different situations where I want him to set up, where I want him to show the glove… It’s going to be a process. He’s caught a lot of games in the big leagues and he has a lot of experience… He knows what he’s talking about and I know what I’m talking about. That’s the relationship and how it goes.
The 37-year-old three-time Cy Young Award winner begins life as the highest-paid pitcher in baseball with a three-year, $130 million contract in his back pocket where he’ll serve as the No. 2 to Jacob deGrom in the Mets’ rotation. Lofty expectations for a pitcher who experienced dead arm down the stretch of the 2021 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and is now going through an abbreviated spring training after representing the players’ union through the MLB lockout.
So far, so good, though.
“It felt good,” Scherzer said. “I’ve been throwing some games, some live BP’s… when you get the umpire back there, it starts to feel real. The intensity goes up a little bit. It’s fun to pitch in those settings.
“Now I want fans, I want people yelling at me and telling me how much I suck. Can’t wait”
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In his outing, Scherzer was taken deep twice by Dominic Smith as the two major blemishes of his morning at Port St. Lucie — though there is obviously no need for alarm.
“He’s never hit those pitches against me. I was like, ‘how’d you figure out how to hit those?'” Scherzer joked. “Good for him. I hope he can hit those pitches. He put two really good swings on the bat. You actually want that. You want to experience failure and you want guys to hit your pitches.
“If you go through and chew up everybody, it doesn’t matter. You’re not working. When you get tested, get challenged, they get in the box and do damage against you, that’s when you learn and continue to get better. For me, there were some good things I did today. Now I have to build off it and go out there five days later and throw five innings.”