WASHINGTON (AP) — Nationals ace Max Scherzer has determined that resting his ailing back is more important than pitching in the All-Star Game.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star, Scherzer struck out 11 over seven shutout innings on Saturday against Kansas City. Hours later, Major League Baseball announced he would be replaced on the National League roster by Sonny Gray.
Scherzer experienced back tightness after beating Detroit on June 30. He worked through it against the Royals, but his back stiffened after the appearance.
Scherzer, manager Dave Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo emerged from a postgame discussion with this conclusion: It would be in the best interest of Scherzer and the Nationals that he excused himself from pitching Tuesday night in Cleveland.
“Our season matters so much more than the All-Star Game,” Scherzer said Sunday. “I know my body pretty well. I just know I’m not going to be at my best if I try and pitch on two days’ rest and I’d really be jeopardizing our season if I were to try and do something like that.”
He plans to represent the Nationals from the sideline on Monday and Tuesday night.
“It’s a really cool honor. It’s a really cool 48 hours,” he said. “I still wanted to go and partake in everything that’s there and especially be there for the Home Run Derby and the game and I get to take my daughter, so it’s going to be fun.”
With Scherzer leading the way, the Nationals have rallied to get back into the hunt in the NL East following a 19-31 start. The plan now is to keep the momentum going by watching the 34-year-old’s health.
“The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for him,” Martinez said. “He’ll get eight days now to recoup and get ready for the next start.”
Scherzer won’t get the ball again until Washington wraps up a three-game series in Philadelphia next Sunday.
“I need some rest right now to let this thing fully heal up so that I’m completely good to go in the second half,” Scherzer said.
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