Scherzer bests Stanton in first of many meetings this year

Both fresh off big-money deals, Nats righty gets Fish slugger to ground into DP, strike out

Scherzer bests Stanton in first of many meetings this year

JUPITER, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter's box against Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer during the bottom of the first inning on Tuesday, a face-off of two players worth more than half a billion dollars combined.

Both players landed megadeals during the offseason. Stanton signed a record 13-year, $325 million contract in November to keep him in Miami. Scherzer joined Washington on a seven-year, $210 million deal as a free agent in January.

Scherzer got the better of Stanton during Tuesday's meeting, the first time the two stars have ever faced off. The righty got the slugger to ground into a double play in the first inning and struck him out swinging in the third.

"He's probably the best hitter in the National League. My God, what he did last year was unbelievable," Scherzer said, making sure to say NL and to not slight his former Tigers teammate Miguel Cabrera. "I have a lot of respect for what he does and what he can do at the plate.

"It's really fun competing against guys like that. That's who you measure yourself up against ... so those are the at-bats you remember."

In his second Grapefruit League appearance this season, Scherzer allowed one run on six hits in three innings in the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Marlins. He threw 47 pitches and was happy to have a chance to work with runners on base, including during both of Stanton's at-bats.

Considering the Marlins and Nationals are scheduled to face each other 19 times this season, Scherzer had to be sure not to reveal too much to opposing hitters, including Stanton.

"I respect him. I know what he can do," Scherzer said with a smile. "I watch SportsCenter."

Said Marlins manager Mike Remond: "You're talking two of the faces of baseball. It's fun watching those guys compete. Both of them had those big contracts in the offseason. It was good for our guys to get a chance to see Scherzer. I'm sure we're going to face him a lot. It was fun."

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who was visiting Roger Dean Stadium on Tuesday, said the two contracts represented the growth around the game.

"I think numbers like that on players contracts, I see that as a reflection of the health of the game, in terms of the revenues that are generated," Manfred said. "Obviously, players get paid that because it's consistent with the revenues that are being generated in the game. I see it as a sign of health."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.