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Mets Notebook: Max Scherzer throws bullpen, Justin Verlander set for Citi Field debut

WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer had what the Mets described as a “strenuous” workday Friday, which was a positive indicator for the right-hander and his management of neck spasms. The right-hander threw a 30-pitch bullpen at Nationals Park and is on track to start Sunday against the Washington Nationals.

But while the neck spasms might be under control right now, the issue doesn’t appear to be a one-time thing. Scherzer has had to manage the issue throughout his career and will continue to in an effort to prevent them as best he can.

“I can get these neck episodes from time to time and I felt like I was doing everything to prevent this,” Scherzer said Friday before the Mets opened a four-game series in Washington. “They can just come out of nowhere sometimes and that’s what happened.”

Scherzer maintains that the spasms were somewhat random and continually emphasized that they can be.

“I do a good amount of neck exercises, kind of some football stuff,” he said. “Making sure my neck is strong. I’ve been doing those, I was on top of it. It wasn’t a result of forgetting to do something, it just came out of nowhere.”

Scherzer was hoping to pitch Saturday in the second game of the series but the Mets felt that Sunday was a better spot for him to slot in since it allowed for a longer workday Friday. The trainers wanted to see how Scherzer’s neck would feel after a full bullpen. He was eager to start throwing again and was encouraged after he was done, flashing manager Buck Showalter a thumbs-up in his office.

Scherzer has yet to find any sort of consistency this season. He’s done everything he could to avoid a stint on the injured list, but because of his desire to stay in the rotation, he’s required extra days off and then received 10 of them that he didn’t want with a suspension for sticky stuff in April.

The results have not been great. The 38-year-old Scherzer is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in five starts and hasn’t pitched since a disastrous start in Detroit on May 3 when he failed to make it through the fourth inning. His best outings have still been inefficient, at best. It’s unclear what, exactly, the Mets can expect to get from their ace moving forward.

“I’m hoping it settles in for him,” Showalter said. “We’ve got an idea, but he should be capable. Right now, I’d like to just get through tomorrow and make sure that this doesn’t creep back up and that we’ll have a problem with it tomorrow. But what he did today, that was the most strenuous thing he’s done for a while and he felt really good.”

Scherzer has been ready for a while to move on from all of the stops, starts, suspensions and spasms and get into a five-day routine to be able to pitch like he feels he is capable of pitching.

“I finally feel like I can turn the corner on this,” he said.

VERLANDER SET FOR CITI FIELD DEBUT

Justin Verlander will finally make his New York City debut Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets will give the right-hander an extra day of rest by using David Peterson on Monday in the series finale against the Nationals.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Left-handed reliever Brooks Raley (elbow inflammation) is expected to be activated off the injured list Saturday or Sunday. Carlos Carrasco will make a rehab start with Double-A Binghamton on Sunday and is expected to join the Major League team shortly thereafter.