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Nationals’ Scherzer on track for Thursday return

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WASHINGTON — Nationals ace Max Scherzer is expected to return from the injured list Thursday.

“He felt good today,” manager Davey Martinez said of Scherzer, who threw a bullpen session Monday prior to the opener of a four-game series between the Nationals and Rockies getting rained out. That contest has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, with the finale coming Thursday afternoon.

Assuming Scherzer doesn’t suffer any setbacks between now and then, he would take the hill in the finale.

Scherzer has been dealing with an inflamed bursa sac below his right shoulder and has not pitched since July 6, when he tallied 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals. One week later, the Nats placed him on the injured list, retroactive to July 10.

On Tuesday, Martinez said the Nationals considered the calendar for the remainder of the regular-season schedule, as well as the postseason, before landing on Thursday as the likely return date for Scherzer.

“We actually sat down and looked at the schedule, and that’s basically how we came up with Thursday,” said the Nats’ second-year skipper. “I went all the way ’til the wild-card game. I’m hoping that we’re not the wild-card team. But we sat down and mapped everything out from that day.”

Washington began the day 6.5 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East, and in possession of the top wild-card spot in the NL. If Scherzer is able to go on Thursday, he would then line up to start in all three of his team’s remaining series against the Braves, as well as in Washington’s lone remaining series against the third-place Phillies. He’d also be in position to take the mound in a potential NL wild-card game.

A three-time Cy Young winner, Scherzer has been one of the game’s most durable hurlers, having made at least 30 starts in all 10 of his full seasons since debuting in 2008. Since signing a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals prior to the 2015 season, the 34-year-old righty had made only one other trip to the injured list, in August of 2017.

This season, Scherzer is 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA. In 129.1 innings, he has recorded 181 strikeouts, most in the National League. In June, prior to hitting the shelf, he went 6-0 with a 1.00 ERA and was named the NL Pitcher of the Month.

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Ex-Reds infielder Jose Peraza agrees to join Red Sox

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The Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent infielder Jose Peraza, according to a report Thursday by Robert Murray.

Peraza likely will fill a utility spot for a Boston team that isn’t expected to bring back free agent Brock Holt.

The 25-year-old Peraza spent the past four seasons with the Reds. Known for his good eye at the plate, he hit .288 with 85 runs scored, 14 home runs and 23 steals in 2018, but those numbers dipped some this past season, when he posted a .239-37-6-7 line.

He was nontendered by the Reds earlier this month.

Peraza will bring versatility to the Red Sox’s defense. Since breaking into the big leagues in 2015, he’s played at least five games at every non-pitching position but first base, right field and catcher.

MLB Network reported that the deal is close to $3 million plus incentives.

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Nomar Mazara, Tanner Roark get fresh starts

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Catching up on a few leftover moves from this week’s winter meetings as I fly home …

• The Rangers finally tired of waiting for Nomar Mazara, to whom they gave $5 million when they signed him as a 16-year-old in 2011, to convert his promise into production, trading him to the Chicago White Sox for fringe prospect Steele Walker. Mazara has a .261/.320/.435 line across four full years in the majors, making him well below average for a corner outfielder in both OBP and power, with an execrable .231/.272/.361 career line against lefties. He doesn’t swing and miss often, but he also swings at too many pitches outside or around the perimeter of the strike zone, pitches he can foul off or put in play but can’t hit hard — and he really doesn’t make enough hard contact for a corner outfielder who’s a below-average defender. I thought Mazara would be a better hitter than this, but after four years there’s been zero improvement in his approach at the plate; perhaps the change of scenery and coaching staffs will help.

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Corey Knebel, Brewers agree to same $5.1M salary

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SAN DIEGO — The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to a one-year contract for $5,125,000 with pitcher Corey Knebel, who is returning from Tommy John surgery.

A 28-year-old right-hander, Knebel hurt his elbow during spring training and had surgery April 3. He had been eligible for salary arbitration and will have the same salary as in 2019.

His deal includes a $50,000 bonus for comeback player of the year along with other award bonuses.

Knebel had 39 saves in 2017, when he was an All-Star, and 16 the following season.

His deal was announced Tuesday.

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