Scherzer's knuckle causing pain; Nats make contingency plans

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer is dealing with pain from a broken knuckle on his pitching hand that arose late last year, and Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker says the team is making plans in case his ace isn't ready for opening day.

Scherzer says Thursday, the first day of official workouts for Washington's pitchers and catchers at spring training, that he began throwing a baseball this week with a modified grip.

He says the injury to the bottom knuckle on his ring finger is ''essentially healed,'' but bothers him when he throws.

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Scherzer wouldn't give a timetable for when he would be ready.

Baker says he wouldn't want to rush Scherzer, ''because you're thinking about the long haul.''

Washington's opener is April 3.