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Mets' Scherzer on track to return after missing start with neck spasms

New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning during the second baseball game of a doubleheader, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

WASHINGTON (AP) — New York Mets right-hander Max Scherzer is expected to start Sunday or Monday against the Washington Nationals after throwing a bullpen session Friday.

Scherzer, who was scratched from his start Tuesday against Cincinnati because of neck spasms, threw about 30 pitches before the opener of a four-game series against one of his former teams.

“That was encouraging,” manager Buck Showalter said. “The earliest he would pitch is Sunday. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He had a pretty extensive work day, which is something he hasn’t been able to do. I could just tell by his face he’s upbeat about it.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner has pitched only once since a 10-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's prohibition on sticky substances during an April 19 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer yielded six runs in 3 1/3 innings against Detroit on May 3 and is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in five starts.

Scherzer said he has experienced neck spasms throughout his career and has regularly done neck exercises as a preventative measure.

The 38-year-old also had a start pushed back last month because of back soreness, and Scherzer has not made consecutive scheduled starts since April 4-10.

“Having the neck flare up a little bit gave some more time for the back,” Scherzer said. “Hopefully, I can hopefully get through everything, get out there and get pitching and get in the swing of things.”

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