Neck injury turns Scherzer's World Series dream into misery

by Jim SLATER
Washington pitcher Max Scherzer was scratched from Sunday's fifth game of the World Series on Sunday due to spasms in his neck and right trapezius muscle

Washington Nationals star Max Scherzer was planning to pitch the biggest game of his baseball career Sunday. Instead, he couldn't move his arm and his wife had to help dress him.

Scherzer was scratched from game five of the World Series against Houston due to muscles spasms in his neck and back that left him struggling to do simple tasks much less throw 100-mph pitches.

"I'm as disappointed as I could possibly be," Scherzer said.

"The nerve that's in the neck was all jammed up. It became impossible for me to do any menial task today. I can't pick up my arm right now so I can't pitch."

The 35-year-old right-hander won game one of the best-of-seven Major League Baseball final and his absence left the Nationals at a major disadvantage with the series deadlocked 2-2.

"This is the most severe one of all time," Scherzer said when asked to compare his injuries. "This is just a little thing that turned into a big thing that turned into giant thing.

"The moment I woke up it really hurt to get out of bed. I basically had to fall out of bed. I couldn't even move my arm. I knew at that moment I was in a pretty bad spot.

"I couldn't even dress myself. I had to have my wife help me."

Scherzer went 11-7 with a 2.92 earned-run average and led all major league pitchers with 7.364 strikeouts for every walk issued this season.

Scherzer made his seventh consecutive All-Star Game appearance this year. He's a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award as top pitcher and a three-time National League strikeouts leader.

While Scherzer had been on the injured list in July with a strained back muscle, he said the new injury was unrelated to the earlier one, the spasms starting on Friday as he began preparing for his start.

"I've had neck spasms in the past and know how to get through them. Came in and got treatment and didn't feel quite right," he said.

"I thought we found a way to ease the spasms. I was able to play catch. When I woke up this morning I was completely locked up. The nerve that's in the neck was all jammed up.

"I've pitched through so much crap in my career... this is impossible to do anything with."

Scheduled game six starter Stephen Strasburg, 4-0 in the playoffs, will remain set for Tuesday's contest in Houston, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said, with Scherzer possible if healthy for a seventh game start Wednesday if necessary.

"As of right now I'd leave Stephen starting game six," Martinez said. "If we get to game seven, Max starts game seven."

Scherzer hopes an injection to ease the spasms and tightness within 48 hours will work and allow him to be ready for a seventh game if needed.

"The doctors told me it would take at least 48 hours for the injection to kick in," Scherzer said. "That's what the doctors believe, it's just nerve irritation.

"Next 48 hours can really decide. I'm just hoping the doctors are right and something could be possible for game seven."

- 'Got to be pretty bad' -

Joe Ross, who has thrown only two innings in one game with one hit allowed during Washington's shock playoff run, was named the game-five starter. He went 4-4 in 27 appearances this season.

"In our clubhouse we always believe the next guy up can get the job done," Scherzer said. "In this case it's Joe."

Houston's Justin Verlander, the game two loser and scheduled game six starter, was a former teammate of Scherzer in Detroit.

"It has got to be pretty bad," said Verlander. "He's a competitor, always wanted to have the ball. Given the situation, I assume it's not good."

Washington pitcher Max Scherzer was scratched from Sunday's fifth game of the World Series on Sunday due to spasms in his neck and right trapezius muscle