NEW YORK — Riding down in a Citi Field elevator, Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers considered what would happen if everybody saw him naked. Matt Harvey of the New York Mets, the other starting pitcher in the All-Star game, recently showed the world his nude self in ESPN the Magazine.
What if a magazine asked Scherzer to take it all off? Would he?
"It would be a cool honor," Scherzer said after laughing. "Obviously it means you're chiseled."
Listed at 6-foot-3 and weighing 220 pounds — dimensions pretty close to those of Harvey — Scherzer would seem to have a reasonable shot at being asked to strip. But he has his doubts.
"I don't know if I quite have that body," said Scherzer, who hasn't seen Harvey's photo spread yet. "I've got a good starting pitcher's body. I don't know if I've got a premiere athlete's body."
What does a "good starting pitcher's body" entail? Wiry. Muscular throwing arm and shoulder. Big ol' bottom and thick legs would be great, too. Some fat OK. But is that combination going to sell any magazines?
"I don't know," Scherzer said. "No one has asked yet."
So that's not a "no."
Earlier, at a noisy press conference where Scherzer had been named the AL's starting pitcher, manager Jim Leyland extolled naked praise for what he believes is Scherzer's top (non-physical) feature: His 13-1 won-loss record.
"I'm proud to announce that this year's starting pitcher for the American League for the 2013 All‑Star Game is our own Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers," Leyland said. "Thirteen and one, Max Scherzer, and I don't think I need to explain anything more than that. Thank you very much."
As he was trying to become the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to start 14-0, Scherzer had said that judging a pitcher on his individual won-loss record was tricky at best.
"I had said to not judge me on the wins, that it was a fluky stat, just because our team was playing so well every time I happened to take the mound," Scherzer said.
So how does Scherzer judge the quality of his pitching?
"For me, it's a combination of everything: Minimizing walks, and doing a lot of the little things that add up. It's a statistical measure and it's something you just feel. If I'm able to use all four pitches of my pitches for strikes, I'm probably going to feel good about myself that night."
Mind, performance — and body.