WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer said when he got out of bed Sunday morning, it was more like falling out of bed. He couldn't move.
The Nationals right-hander was scratched from his Game 5 start on Sunday due to neck spasms. He told reporters the condition, which he's dealt with in the past but is now "the most severe of all-time for me," was so debilitating he needed his wife's help getting up.
"I couldn't get out of bed, like it really hurt to get out of bed. I basically had to fall out of bed ... couldn't even move my arm," he said. "I just knew at that point I was in a really bad spot."
He said the risk of pitching in Game 5 was that "something seriously, seriously could go wrong" but that it wasn't even a matter of considering the risk or not - he can't throw a ball.
"I can't pick up my arm right now," he said. "So I can't pitch."
Scherzer, one of the best pitchers in baseball and a mainstay in the Nationals rotation since 2015, making the All-Star team every year since 2015, said he's dealt with smaller neck spasms in the past. Specifically, he recalled when he began a start in Miami two years ago and had to come out. Weeks later, he missed a start in San Diego and wound up on the 10-day injured list.
“I slept on it wrong,” he said in Miami back in 2017. “Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you have a crick in your neck. That’s what it is."
This is like that, Scherzer said, just much, much worse.
"This is just a little thing that turned into a big thing that turned into a giant thing," he said. "I've pitched through so much crap in my career, that it would be easy to pitch through at this point. This is literally impossible to do anything with."
He described how this time around, he thought he could deal with it as he has in the past. He said he first started feeling the irritation a couple days and tried to work through it Saturday - to the point where he was able to play catch and thought he had got to the point where he could still make Sunday's start.
Then he woke up on Sunday.
"That's where I thought I was at a couple days ago, that if I just did my normal treatment, get adjustments, that I could be able to keep this off and keep it from blowing up on me," he said. "Unfortunately, this blew up on me to the point where, like I said, I can't move."
Scherzer is holding out hope for now that after a cortisone shot on Sunday, he will heal up in time to pitch a potential Game 7 on Wednesday in Houston.
"Yeah that's what the doctors believe, with this nerve irritation, that they think with the cortisone shot in there that that could take in 48 hours, it could really help subside the pain ... that's in my neck right now, that's all pinched up," he said. "So for me, I'm just hoping that the doctors are right and that something can be possible for Game 7."
Scherzer said he was "disappointed as I possibly can be to be able to not pitch tonight" but that he was fully confident in his replacement, Joe Ross.
"I still have faith in everybody in this clubhouse, watching Joe Ross pitch the other night, I thought he looked extremely polished in what he was able to do," he said. "In our clubhouse, we just believe the next guy up can always get the job done. Right now it's coming down to Joe."