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HOUSTON — Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez said ailing ace Max Scherzer will — for now — start Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, if Washington is able to stave off elimination against the Houston Astros on Tuesday.

Scherzer threw off flat ground in the outfield at Minute Maid Park before Game 6, then flashed a thumbs-up sign to reporters, saying, “Good to go.”

Thus when Martinez was asked if Scherzer would be his Game 7 starter, he said, “As for right now, yes.”

Scherzer was scratched from a scheduled Game 5 start because of neck spasms so severe that he told reporters Sunday that “I can’t even lift my arm right now.” Righty Nike Joe Ross Jersey replaced Scherzer on the mound. The Astros won the game 7-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series.


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As part of his treatment for the malady, Scherzer received a cortisone injection Sunday which he said doctors told him would take 24 to 48 hours to take effect. If Scherzer can pitch, it will have been a remarkable recovery from what looked like a serious issue. Scherzer, 35, could barely turn his head to look at reporters when answering questions during a news conference Sunday.

“He couldn’t do anything for 24 hours,” Martinez said. “He definitely flew with us [to Houston]. He was in a neck brace. We sat him in first class, so he had a lot of room.”

Martinez still sounded somewhat guarded, saying that the team still has to see how Scherzer responds to his throwing session.

“He threw flat ground today after not being able to move his neck and [trapezius] for two days,” Martinez said of the right-hander. “We’re at the point now where we’ll see how he feels in the next couple of hours.”

Washington will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound in Game 6 in hopes of keeping its season alive and setting up a potentially dramatic return for Scherzer. Such a development might seem surprising to some, but not to his teammates.

“If there is any way humanly possible that Max can take the ball, we know he will,” outfielder Nike Adam Eaton Jersey said moments before news of Scherzer’s status update spread.

Martinez said catcher Nike Kurt Suzuki Jersey (hip flexor) was also improving. He is available to come off the bench if needed in Game 6, and it’s possible he could, as usual, catch Scherzer in Game 7.

“Barring nothing happening, come tomorrow, I’m going to sit down and talk to him,” Martinez said. “If nothing happens, he’ll catch Max in Game 7.”

The Nationals led the series 2-0 after winning Games 1 and 2 in Houston. However, the Astros recovered to beat the Nats in three consecutive games in Washington by a combined score of 19-3.

In the last of those games, after Scherzer was scratched, the Astros jumped on Ross for four runs over five innings. Scherzer was the Game 1 winner, giving up two runs over five innings.

Martinez said that if Scherzer can take the ball, he won’t be limited to a predetermined pitch count.

“If Max tells me tonight that he’s good, then Max will pitch until his neck decides he can’t pitch anymore,” Martinez said. “I can’t see myself telling Max, ‘You’re only going to go 75 pitches.’

“Today he looked normal, like any other day he throws from flat ground. [I am] hoping you’re going to see Max be Max.”

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CHICAGO — New Chicago Cubs manager David Ross and team president Theo Epstein pushed back on the notion that Ross simply will be an extension of the front office after working as a special assistant in it over the past three years.

Ross is set out to be his own man.

“I will be making my own decisions and continue with feedback from the group,” Ross said in his introductory news conference Monday. “I want to stay true to who I am. These guys responded to me when I was here as a player. I don’t think that will change as a manager.”

Epstein was even more blunt in his assessment, making sure everyone understands Custom Chicago Cubs Nike Jerseys brass won’t be pulling the strings with its first-year manager.

“If you’re a front office and you want a puppet, you don’t hire David Ross,” Epstein said. “Anyone that knows Rossy, knows that. He is absolutely his own man.”


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Ross signed a three-year deal to replace Joe Maddon, who won a World Series with the team while having Ross as his backup catcher and a key team leader. With the Cubs and Maddon agreeing to part ways after the season, it’s Ross’ turn now to take the helm after the Cubs missed the postseason for the first time in five years.

The organization hopes Ross will exert the same strong personality he showed as a teammate, when sometimes uncomfortable conversations were needed in the dugout and clubhouse.

The team views some of the recent problems it’s had as a lack of accountability. That won’t be an issue for Ross — despite being known as the congenial “grandpa Rossy” when he was a player for the Cubs.

“I think maybe there is a misconception of the fun-loving grandpa Rossy, which I love and am very thankful for, but I don’t think that’s me in the dugout as much as I would love to say I’m that guy,” Ross said. “The grandpa Rossy thing is a little bit overblown.”

Baseball Tonight Podcast
ESPN’s Karl Ravech talks about the biggest challenge facing new manager David Ross and the Cubs. Listen now!

Although the Cubs are hiring a player from their championship season, they are adamant they want to look forward not backward. Epstein called it a “crutch” to fall back on the successes of the past, and Ross agreed.

“It’s not about 2016,” he said. “It’s about the expectation of winning. It’s about winning championships. It’s about holding yourself accountable to things that you found in winning. Let’s emphasize those.”

Added Epstein: “When there is too much of looking back to 2016, it can become a crutch that prevents you from moving forward … I just have all the confidence in the world he’s going to establish a new direction, a new voice, that’s completely looking forward not back.”

As for his managerial style, Ross said he’s in wait-and-see mode. One thing is for sure, though: He will let the game tell him what he needs to do.

“I’m going to be a manager that wants to watch the game and see how it plays out,” he said. “I think managers that go in with a preset notion can sometimes get in trouble.”

And as you might expect out of a longtime backup catcher-turned-first-year manager, he knows his strength will be with his players on day one. In fact, he’s relying on it until he gets some experience managing a game. The team is hopeful it will all come together for him as together they enter a new era of Cubs baseball.

“The vibe in the dugout, how I carry myself, the communication skills, the relationships,” Ross said, reeling off things he thinks will come as second nature to him. “The in-game stuff is going to take me a minute.”