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Sports >  MLB

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer ‘probably’ not ready for opening day

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2016 file photo, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer pitches in the first inning in Game 5 of baseball’s National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park in Washington. Scherzer is dealing with pain from a fractured knuckle on his pitching hand that arose late last year, and Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker says the team is making plans in case his ace isn't ready to go when next season begins. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2016 file photo, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer pitches in the first inning in Game 5 of baseball’s National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park in Washington. Scherzer is dealing with pain from a fractured knuckle on his pitching hand that arose late last year, and Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker says the team is making plans in case his ace isn't ready to go when next season begins. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
Associated Press

N.L. Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer probably will miss the Washington Nationals’ opener against Miami on April 3 because of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

The stress fracture had caused Scherzer to change the grip on his fastball, placing three fingers on top of the ball instead of two, but he went back to his old grip Thursday during his first game action this year, a three-inning stint in a minor league exhibition against New York Mets’ Triple-A players.

“That’s the really good news today,” said Scherzer, who struck out five. “It’s good to be back to the normal grip. From here on out, I’ll be obviously progressing that way. Now I’m dialing it in, trying to hit locations and really trying to pitch with the fastball again. Now I feel back.”

Scherzer threw 35 of 54 pitches for strikes, mixing in some three-fingered fastballs. He had two quick innings but struggled with his control in the second.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux said Scherzer will start for the Nationals on Wednesday against St. Louis.

“We’ll take the training wheels off,” Maddux said.

Scherzer said he will get three more starts before season and expects to break camp with the big league club.

“I should be progressing at a pretty good clip now to allow myself to be able to find a way to start the regular season,” Scherzer said.

A 32-year-old right-hander, Scherzer was 20-7 last season.

Manager Dusty Baker said of Scherzer’s opening-day availability: “At this point, probably no.”

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