June 22, 2024

ARLINGTON, Texas — Max Scherzer declared himself “ready to go” after throwing another bullpen session and doing fielding drills Friday, two days before the Texas Rangers open the AL Championship Series.

The Rangers haven’t said whether the three-time Cy Young Award winner will be on their ALCS roster, and that decision doesn’t have to be made until Sunday before the Game 1 at Houston. Scherzer hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 12 because of a muscle strain in his injured shoulder.

“I feel good. Recovered, checked all of the boxes I possibly can,” Scherzer said during a workout at Globe Life Field before the team traveled to Houston. “So I’m ready to go.”

Texas manager Bruce Bochy, who didn’t speak with reporters Friday, and pitching coach Mike Maddux have expressed being encouraged by Scherzer’s progress.

Meanwhile, the team announced later Friday that left-hander Jordan Montgomery will start Game 1 against Houston on Sunday.

After a bullpen session in full uniform, Scherzer fielded grounders up both lines at Globe Life Field and covering first base for a few plays.

“I do two days of PFP in the year, one day in spring training and one day before postseason,” he said with a grin, referring to pitchers’ fielding practice.

Scherzer said he is confident he can get batters out, and knows he would have to bring his A-game against the Astros. But he doesn’t know how long he could go in a game.

“I can’t answer that question. It’s just going to be play it by ear,” Scherzer said. “I’ll just be in communication with Boch and Mad Dog [Maddux], and we’ll see how this shakes out. … We’ve had conversations: If I do feel something, I’ve got to come out the game.”

The bullpen session followed a simulated game Wednesday, when Scherzer threw more than 60 pitches and had several up-and-down segments.

“Very encouraged, the fact that he threw 68 against hitters, maintained his stuff throughout all 68,” Maddux said Friday of Scherzer’s pitch count, speaking before the workouts. “He didn’t skip a beat from 1 to 68. That was the encouraging part. Need to sharpen up a little bit.”

“That was my first time on the mound facing hitters in a few weeks — you’re breaking through some cobwebs,” Scherzer added. “I got through those, got my arm in the right position. So then this sim game [Wednesday], that was kind of more like a rehab start and got stronger throughout my pitches. I felt like I was almost stronger at the end than I was at the beginning, so that’s kind of what you want to feel before you get into a start.”

Asked if he felt like he had more life on his fastball when facing hitters this week than last, Scherzer said he wasn’t sure.

“That was actually kind of a weird sim game,” he said. “I usually don’t pitch hungover.”

That was the day after the Rangers had wrapped up the AL Division Series with a 7-1 win over Baltimore.

Scherzer, whose 3,367 strikeouts are the most among active pitchers, was 13-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 27 starts for the Mets and Rangers. He struck out 174 in 152⅔ innings.

As part of the trade to Texas, Scherzer exercised his 2024 option at $43.33 million, most of which will be covered by Mets’ payments to the Rangers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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