Max Scherzer will not be on the mound when the Nationals open their season April 3 against the Marlins, but the team hopes he'll be ready to go soon after the opener.
Manager Dusty Baker acknowledged to reporters Thursday that Scherzer will "probably not" be able to pitch at the very beginning of the season, but the team doesn't necessarily expect the right-hander to start the year on the disabled list.
Scherzer has been slowed throughout spring training by a lingering stress fracture in his right ring finger. The injury kept him from throwing his fastball early in camp and he has been experimenting with a three-fingered grip for the pitch that he planned to try out in a minor league game Thursday.
The 32-year-old vowed to reporters earlier this week that he would be ready to start the season, but it appears the team is trying to keep him focused on the big picture.
"Opening day, I'm sure it's important for him, but not as much as the rest of the season," Baker said.