WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer has a stress fracture on the knuckle of his right ring finger, the Nationals revealed Monday. The rehab process for that finger will force him to withdraw from pitching for Team USA in this year's World Baseball Classic.
Despite the injury, the Nationals say Scherzer is expected to be a full participant in Spring Training.
Scherzer sent out a statement on his Twitter account Monday night, revealing that he discomfort in his finger began in late August. It was diagnosed then as a finger sprain, but he continued to pitch through it because he was pain-free during his starts and his performance was unaffected. He went 5-0 with a 3.29 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings in his six starts during the final month of the season.
When his symptoms continued into December, he had a second MRI that revealed a stress fracture.
Last month at the Nationals WinterFest, Scherzer spoke about his excitement to participate in the tournament after watching the previous tournaments and seeing how passionate the fan bases were. He was also enticed by being the possibility of being reunited with his former manager, Jim Leyland, who will managing Team USA. Leyland managed Scherzer in Detroit from 2010-13.
"I am disappointed that I will not get to reunite with Jim Leyland and Jeff Jones," Scherzer wrote on his Twitter account Monday night, "but I'm excited to see how Team USA performs this spring."
This year, Scherzer became the first pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1965 to lead the NL in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and WHIP. Despite the high innings total (228 1/3), Washington did not have any hesitations in allowing their star pitcher to compete in the tournament. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy is also scheduled to play for Team USA, which opens play in Pool C at Marlins Park beginning March 10. That will be less than a month after the Nats report to Spring Training in their new home in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Not participating in the tournament will likely give Scherzer the full time to recover from his injury and not be required to push it before the regular season begins. The Nats will be counting on a heavy workload from Scherzer this season in their quest to repeat as the NL East champions. Since becoming a full-time Major League starter in 2009, Scherzer has not been placed on the disabled list.
Washington would like to get this injury under control to keep that streak alive.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.