WASHINGTON — Nationals manager Dave Martinez announced that starter Max Scherzer was scratched from his Game 5 start against the Astros because of spasms in his neck and upper right trapezius.
“Yesterday, he had a little bit of spasms in his right trap and neck,” Martinez said. “They treated it. He woke up today a lot worse.”
According to Scherzer, the symptoms were bad enough that he couldn’t do anything “menial” when he woke this morning.
“Moment I wake, I couldn’t get out of bed,” Scherzer said. “I basically just fell out of bed. Picked myself up with my left arm, and I was moving around, just couldn’t even move my [right] arm. I just knew at that point I was in a really bad spot.”
Cheap Houston Astros Jerseys owner Jim Crane wrote a letter to a Sports Illustrated reporter to apologize for a statement from the team last week that questioned her reporting.
Stephanie Apstein on Sunday tweeted the letter from Crane, saying she received it on Saturday.
On Monday, Apstein reported that during the celebration in the Astros’ clubhouse after clinching the American League Championship Series on Oct. 19, assistant general manager Brandon Taubman turned to a group of female reporters — including one wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet — and repeatedly yelled, “Thank God we got [Roberto] Osuna! I’m so f—ing glad we got Osuna!”
Last season, Osuna served a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Cheap Baseball Jerseys domestic violence policy, stemming from an incident that happened while he was a member of the Cheap Toronto Blue Jays Jerseys.
The Astros initially denied Apstein’s report, calling the story “misleading and completely irresponsible” in a statement Monday.
In the letter, Crane wrote that he is apologizing to Apstein on behalf of the Astros and retracting that statement.
“We were wrong and I am sorry that we initially questioned your professionalism,” Crane wrote. “We retract that statement, and I assure you that the Houston Astros will learn from this experience.”
Taubman was fired by the Astros on Thursday. The team said in a statement that Taubman’s “inappropriate comments” were directed at the women. The team said it was “wrong” in its initial conclusions and apologized to “Apstein, Sports Illustrated and to all individuals who witnessed this incident or were offended by the inappropriate conduct.”
“The Astros in no way intended to minimize the issues related to domestic violence,” the team said in its statement.
Righty Joe Ross will take Scherzer’s place and will face Astros ace Gerrit Cole. The Cheap Washington Nationals Jerseys and Astros enter Sunday night’s game tied at two apiece.
“He’s really upset about this,” Martinez said, adding that the normally animated Scherzer was “very quiet” before the game.
Scherzer said he received a cortisone shot in the irritated region of his neck and back. Doctors said it should take about 48 hours for the shot to take effect, which means it’s still possible that he could pitch in a possible Game 7 on Wednesday in Houston.
“That’s what the doctors believe with this nerve irritation, with a cortisone shot in there, that the neck can take 48 hours [and] it really will help subside the pain that’s being alleviated,” Scherzer said. “I’m just hoping that doctors are right and that something can be possible for Game 7.”
Game 5 was set up to be a highly anticipated rematch between Scherzer and Cole, who both started Game 1, a 5-4 Nationals win. However, Martinez said Scherzer will continue to undergo treatment, and the club will keep him on the roster rather than petition for an injury replacement.
“We’re going to keep him on the roster,” Martinez said. “If this gets better in the next 24 to 48 hours, being that we have a day off tomorrow, hopefully he’ll be available to pitch one of those two games.”
Scherzer, 35, went 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA during the season but was limited to 27 starts because of back problems. He said the new injury appears to be unrelated to that issue, which was more a problem with the lower region of the back.
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner, said his condition shouldn’t result in any long-term problems and that avoiding that outcome was one reason he wouldn’t have pitched on Sunday. But it turned out that fighting through the injury wasn’t an option.
“That was one of the dangers of pitching tonight, was that something serious could go wrong,” Scherzer said. “But actually I can’t even pick up my arm right now.”
Ross, 26, was 4-4 with a 5.48 ERA this season in 27 appearances, including nine starts. He wasn’t on Washington’s roster during the early rounds of the postseason but was added for the World Series. He has made one appearance, throwing two scoreless innings in Game 3.
Scherzer said that once he realized he would not be able to pitch, he alerted Ross via a text message so he could begin preparations.
“[I will] just keep the belief that we can win,” Scherzer said. “Whoever is at the plate and whoever is on the mound has the ability to do that job and continue. That’s been our motto all season, that it’s just not one guy.”
This will be Ross’ second career postseason start. He allowed four runs over 2 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in the 2016 NLDS.
“He’s starting the game,” Martinez said. “We’re going to let him go as much as he can go.”
Astros manager AJ Hinch found out about Scherzer’s injury at roughly the same time that Martinez announced the news to the media. But one of his players found out a split second earlier.
“I found out from Alex Bregman, which is part of the story,” Hinch said. “He was just closest to his phone whenever it started hitting the social media part. He came in and asked if it was true. I did a little investigating, and turned out it was.”
Still, Hinch says his club takes no delight in avoiding the challenge of facing one of the game’s toughest pitchers.
“We’re not going to high-five,” Hinch said. “We’re not going to have that moment where we feel like we have some sort of advantage. We need to go find a way to beat Joe Ross now.”
During the early rounds of the playoffs, Martinez helped navigate the Nationals to the World Series by deploying his key arms — Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin — as both starters and relievers. When asked if that might have contributed to his problems, Scherzer dismissed the possibility.
“Absolutely not,” Scherzer said. “This [is] just another thing that was a little thing that turned into a big thing that turned into a giant thing.”