Nationals ace Max Scherzer has been recovering from a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, and he’s on track to throw off a mound for the first time this spring on Saturday, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports. If everything goes according to plan, he’ll progress to bullpen sessions and be game-ready in a couple of weeks, Zuckerman adds. While pitching coach Mike Maddux conceded that Scherzer could be “a start or two” behind the rest of the team’s rotation, the extra time in Spring Training (which was worked in due to the World Baseball Classic) will prove beneficial to Scherzer. Both Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark threw in an intrasquad game today as well, Zuckerman notes — a particularly important note for Strasburg. The 28-year-old righty saw his 2016 season end in early September due to a flexor mass strain but was able to throw his fastball, curveball and changeup in Thursday’s session.
More from the NL East…
- The Mets’ show of faith in Travis d’Arnaud will be all the more interesting to watch now that Matt Wieters has agreed to sign with the division-rival Nationals, writes Dan Martin of the New York Post. The Mets weren’t impressed with Wieters’ defense, Martin reports, which is why the team never embarked on a serious pursuit of the longtime Oriole. Martin spoke to a number of Mets players about the feeling of watching an excellent catcher, Wilson Ramos, depart from the Nationals only to be replaced by another well-reputed backstop. “When you lose a guy like Ramos and back him up with a guy like Wieters, that’s pretty solid,” David Wright said to Martin. “It’s tough to replace a guy like Ramos. … That’s what good organizations do, whether it’s us getting [Neil] Walker immediately after losing [Daniel] Murphy [to the Nationals]. They find a Plan B and a Plan C very quickly.”
- The Phillies will be without hard-throwing right-handed relief prospect Victor Arano for at least one month, per CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. The 22-year-old, who averaged about 94 mph on his fastball in 2016, has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. While surgery hasn’t been recommended, Arano did receive a platelet-rich plasma injection that will sideline him for the bulk of Spring Training. Though he was never likely to break camp with the Phils, it’s still discouraging for the team to see the promising young see his development set back. Last season, Arano posted brilliant numbers between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, working to a combined 2.26 ERA with 10.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 across 79 2/3 innings of work. Arano rated 23rd among Phillies prospects entering the season, per MLB.com, while ESPN’s Keith Law rated him 16th. “If there’s a Ken Giles in the system right now, it’s him,” Law wrote of Arano.
- Andy MacPhail’s career in baseball spans several decades, but the Phillies’ president is leading the charge to help modernize his organization, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. MacPhail, who took charge of the Phillies following the 2015 season, explained to Zolecki the myriad changes that are being made all throughout the organization. Improvements not only to the team’s analytics department but also to nutrition programs in the minor league ranks and a new facility opening in the Dominican Republic are just some of the changes that have been ushered in. MacPhail also sounded intrigued by the Rays’ recent decision to push back the start times of their spring workouts for players and cited an interest in sleep science studies. Beyond that, he noted that the Phils will be looking to hire a replacement for EVP/COO Mike Stiles, who will be retiring in June, though there’s been no determination on whether they’ll go with an internal or external hire.