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Texas Rangers ace Max Scherzer strong in rehab start with Round Rock Express in OKC

Max Scherzer has always competed with a ferocious chip on his shoulder.

Affectionately nicknamed Mad Max, the star pitcher has accomplished just about everything possible in Major League Baseball, winning three Cy Young awards and two World Series championships.

And when Scherzer is on the mound, his passion is just as glaring as his masterful pitching.

“I’ve always had that,” Scherzer said on Sunday. “I attribute that to when I was growing up playing football and basketball. Those sports are much more physical and it takes a lot more grit. I’m not saying, trust me, baseball takes grit. But growing up as a kid playing all three sports, you learned how to compete, learned how to do multiple things and didn’t matter what sport you were playing.”

Scherzer is now 39 and near the tailend of a Hall of Fame career, but he’s still the same Mad Max who has earned eight All-Star nods since 2013.

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He made a rehab start with the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, on Sunday and shut down the OKC Baseball Club in a 3-1 win at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, allowing no runs and just one hit in four innings.

“I was executing with the pitches, made some adjustments on some of the grips I had to have to account for this thumb injury that I’ve been having,” Scherzer said. “So felt like some of those adjustments worked, and I look forward to getting back out there again.”

Scherzer had surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back during the offseason and has most recently been dealing with the thumb issue.

He made his first rehab start with Round Rock on April 24 and hasn’t played with the Rangers since the 2023 World Series, which Texas won in five games against Arizona.

This was the first time in a while since he’s been in OKC.

“Last time I was here was the Big 12 Tournament in 2006, so yeah, it’s been a minute since I’ve been here,” said Scherzer, who played college baseball at Missouri. “But yeah, still got good memories of that Big 12 Tournament.”

Scherzer was born and raised in Chesterfield, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. He grew up in a competitive environment, and that molded him.

Some pitchers are calm and relaxed on the mound. Stoic.

Scherzer is the complete opposite, often stomping around the mound and wearing his emotions on his sleeve.

"The group of kids, guys that I was growing up with, we were all very competitive,” Scherzer said. “We were all very — showed a lot of grit. So for me, I always thought that’s how you play sports. But I think that’s just more of a St. Louis, kind of Midwest attitude and something that I’ve always gravitated towards.”

Scherzer played quarterback when he was growing up, but it was pretty clear to him he was destined to be a pitcher.

“I got the arm. I just don’t have the vision,” Scherzer said with a laugh. “When things get going, I get tunnel vision.”

That’s good for baseball. Not so much as a quarterback.

“Plus I never (liked) the idea of James Harrison ever hitting me or Ray Lewis or JJ Watt, like that doesn’t make sense,” Scherzer said.

Scherzer is ready to get back on the mound for Texas.

His only remaining goal at this point is to keep winning more World Series championships.

“That’s it,” he said. “For me, that’s the only thing you need to motivate yourself every single day to go through and make all the sacrifices that it takes to be at your best. And for me, my dream is still to win the World Series again.

“It’s too much fun, so hopefully we can get going with the team and hopefully I can be a part of it.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Max Scherzer injury update: Rangers ace strong in rehab start in OKC