Ryan Zimmerman explains why it was best Max Scherzer was alone during Opening Day delay

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Ryan Homler
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Zimmerman: better Scherzer was alone during Opening Day delay originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For those who know Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer -- like longtime first baseman Ryan Zimmerman -- it's become incredibly clear that the ace lives and breaths baseball.

A fierce competitor, Scherzer's intensity on the mound every single pitch is rarely matched. When he's not pitching, he's chomping at the bit to get back out there.

So, when the Nationals Opening Day game -- and series -- against the New York Mets was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak and delayed Scherzer's start by an additional five days, Zimmerman could only imagine how tough it was for him to wait.

“That was probably better that nobody was able to be around him, he would have been terrible to be around," Zimmerman said on Monday. "He’s hardly bearable with the regular five days like you said, so 10 days would have been miserable.”

Scherzer and Zimmerman were not among the 11 players impacted by the outbreak, with four testing positive and another seven having to isolate due to contact tracing. Still, all players were in quarantine following the first positive test to stop the spread.

Come Tuesday when the Nationals open their season against the Atlanta Braves, Scherzer will take the mound for his delayed Opening Day start. Despite the uncommon timeline and lack of work prior to the game, Zimmerman has no doubt that Scherzer has remained game-ready.

“I think I can see Max just going out in his own backyard and throwing a baseball to nobody just to make sure he’s ready," Zimmerman said. “He’ll be ready to go, he’ll be fired up as usual.”

In fact, Zimmerman doesn't believe there's really anything that can truly impact Scherzer's craft. Entering their seventh season together as teammates, Mr. National has learned a lot about the pitcher. One is that every start of his has the potential to be special. Another is that there is no adversity Scherzer can't face.

From starting just a day after breaking his nose and striking out 10 to pitching through injuries in the World Series, it's hard to keep Scherzer off the mound.

“He works his tail off to make sure he’s ready every five days," Zimmerman said. "I’ve seen him pitch through some injuries, some tough situations, so I don’t really worry about him not being able to handle something like this.”

Though it will be his sixth Opening Day start in seven seasons for the Nationals, and though it was delayed by five days, it doesn't lessen the excitement that comes with Scherzer taking the mound.

That's the case for the fans and his teammates, as every Scherzer start is must-see baseball.

“I’m just as excited to watch him as you guys are every time he goes out there," Zimmerman said.