LAKELAND, Fla. -- Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday right-hander Max Scherzer will make his first start of spring training Sunday.
It will be a good first test, too. Scherzer will face the Atlanta Braves in their park. That means he probably will pitch against most of the regulars from a team that made the playoffs last year, and that, after losing Chipper Jones, has added the Upton brothers.
Scherzer hasn't pitched in spring training because of this combination: extra-long season last year, his deltoid ailment near the end of the season, and the early start to spring training this year due to the World Baseball Classic.
As Scherzer said again Wednesday, he's making his first start at the point he would if spring training were normal length. He just didn't partake of the extra week of this year's exhibition schedule.
"I wanted to throw the exact same amount in spring training as I did last year," Scherzer said. "I didn't want to increase my spring-training workload."
Scherzer threw batting practice Wednesday.
"It felt good," the power pitcher said. "My arm is progressing the right way. I'm building up my pitch count in the live BPs. I'm starting to have a feel for all my pitches. I'm ready to get into the games.
"The ball is coming out of my hand fine. I'm anxious to get into a game."
Wednesday's batting practice was to be the final time Scherzer throws off the mound before Sunday.
Scherzer led the American League last season in strikeouts per nine innings with 11.08.
Scherzer is in line to start the second game of the regular season April 3 in Minnesota. However, the only thing Leyland has announced about the regular-season rotation is that Justin Verlander will start the April 1 opener. The Tigers and Twins are off April 2 so they can immediately make up their opener if it gets rained out or, as the case might be, snowed out.
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