Max Scherzer has been as advertised since the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him from the Washington Nationals at this season’s MLB trade deadline.
In three starts for the Dodgers, the future Hall-of-Famer has thrown 16.1 innings while only allowing four runs.
The Dodgers knew how good Scherzer was when they acquired him, and it is well documented how competitive he is. But manager Dave Roberts found out just how focused Scherzer is during a game and how much he expects out of himself.
“You can’t talk to him, let alone touch him. I remember the start against the Astros, his first start for us, I pat him on the butt coming into the dugout in the first inning, second inning, maybe the third inning,” Roberts said during an ESPN in-game interview.
“And in the fourth inning, I pat him on the butt like, ‘Hey, nice going.’ He mumbled something under his breath, and I’m like, ‘Did he just say don’t effing touch me?’
“And then I got the scoop from our players, ‘Hey Doc, make sure you don’t touch him. He doesn’t want anyone to touch him.’ So he goes seven, and I go, ‘Hey man, did you mumble something like, don’t effing touch me?
“And he goes, ‘Yeah, I gave you the tempered, most respectful way I could say it. This is my job. I don’t need any kind of congratulations or support. That’s my job.’ We got a little kick out of it.”
Roberts also previously found out about the 37-year-old’s intensity during the two most recent Midsummer Classics, which gave him an idea about Scherzer’s mannerisms on game day.
“I’ve talked to him at the All-Star Games the last couple we were together, it doesn’t really start until he puts his headphones on. So he’s sort of approachable — and I say that loosely — on start days,” Roberts said.
“But once he gets his headphones on, it’s maybe two hours before a game, then he starts seeing red. Had a little conversation with him earlier, it was short, but I think that’s probably my last one for the day.”
Roberts and fans have also seen the lighter side of Scherzer as he took a curtain call that he said he will never forget after his Dodger debut.
Blake Treinen recently indicated he has never seen someone prepare like Scherzer does before a game, and Roberts said that work ethic has allowed the eight-time All-Star to dominate for so long.
“I think with Max — and this is obviously a short sample — but he’s as accountable of a Major League player as I’ve seen. Again, I’ve only spent time with him for a brief time, and I say that in a sense of his prep work,” Roberts said.
“He does his own work on opposing hitters, he does his own work on tendencies on where to play our defenders and layering that on with information that we provide. That back-and-forth dialogue, there’s a lot of conviction once the game starts.
“That’s a big reason why he’s been so great and so consistent over the years. Him doing his homework in all facets to prepare for one game is pretty remarkable.”
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