Scherzer’s road to Arizona, however, would be one of a less than standard variety.
missing his first season as a pro due to contract disputes between his
agent, Scott Boras, and the Diamondbacks’ brass, the University of
Missouri product faced a probable reentry to baseball’s draft for the
Just before the signing deadline was ready to pass, a contract offer was on the table, and Max Scherzer’s road to Arizona was sealed.
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Scherzer recently met up with Project Prospect Editor Adam Loberstein to discuss everything from his winding road to the Diamondbacks to his feelings regarding a slot in the rotation versus the bullpen to his experience in the Arizona Fall League.
After being picked 11th overall in 2006, you were forced to wait
another year before you could participate in the pro game due to
contract disputes. What was that whole process like for you mentally?
Max Scherzer: Physically it was fine. I got to workout as much as I wanted to, kept my arm in shape the whole time, moved back to Missouri – where I played college ball. I worked out there, worked out with the team. At any point, if I signed, I was ready to play.
mental part was the tough part. It was the first time I had to deal
with a business decision of that magnitude in my life. You really have
to separate that where as when you sleep at night, what you’re doing is
the right thing because it’s business decision. It’s just a learning
process to go through that, and in the end I really think it worked out
for both Arizona and me.
AL: Literally minutes before the signing deadline comes in, your agent calls and the contract offer is on the table. Up until that moment, did you really think you’d be an Arizona Diamondback?
MS: I wanted to. It was out of my hands. I had a say in what was going to happen. My whole family – we were all weighing over all the possibilities of what would happen. But it was out of my control. It was what Arizona was going to come forward with.
I really only missed a month of the season. I simulated spring training, I worked out on the five-day rotation at Mizzou – basically missed a month of the season and then went on to Independent [League] ball. For me, I really didn’t feel like I lost too much time. I lost last summer, but it finished out the college year. It wasn’t the end all thing to me, missing that one month.
AL: What was your reaction once the offer came to the forefront?
It was relieving. That was the biggest thing. I was talking to my
parents and all that – I just want to go out and play ball, but I knew
I had to take care of business first. It was just relieving that I
could go out and play ball everyday. I was with the team that I wanted
to be with. I wanted to be an Arizona Diamondback – I was happy when
they drafted me. I was with the team I wanted [to be with], got a
contract that was very nice and everything, and I get to play with the
And here we are just a year later in the Arizona Fall League. There’s a
lot of pretty prestigious things going on around here, isn’t there?
MS: It seems like every week your jaw drops at something. You see Pujols, you see Jermaine Dye, you saw Torii Hunter – all those guys. They all got their speeches and said that they kinda started in the big leagues when they were here in the [Arizona] Fall League was how they got jumpstarted. It’s real encouraging to know that if you come out here and play well, that hopefully for me I can jumpstart my big league career. That’s my dream to be. That’s where I hope to be.
AL: Can you talk about how it feels to be so close to the Majors right now?
MS: It’s kind of weird to think about because you really don’t feel like it. You’re just going out there playing baseball everyday. When you look around at what guys in the past have done, you realize, “Wow, you are close.” Even though I don’t sit there and think about it because I still have work to do, but you also realize that, “Wait a second, there’s a bunch of guys that made the jump in a year.” It’s really exciting to think that it’s a real possibility for that to happen next year.
AL: One thing that might affect just how close you are is the rotation versus bullpen situation at hand. What’s your mindset on the situation? What’s your preference?
Anything to be on the big league roster. Anything to help the
Diamondbacks win I will do in a heartbeat. If you asked me to pick –
reliever or starter – I do like starting more. The challenges that come
with facing a lineup three or four times, pitching six or seven
innings, giving it your all – it’s your game. I like that feeling more,
but in the end, relieving is fun because you have to come in and be
perfect for one inning. You can’t make a mistake – there’s no mistakes
allowed. You just have to be perfect, and that’s a fun challenge, too.
AL: You’re potentially just a year away from the Majors, but I’m sure there’s still things you want to improve upon. What are you focusing your game on to add to your arsenal next?
First pitch strikes – throwing strikes early in the count. Instead of
being 2-1, I want to be 1-2 – that’s a huge number to me. When you
control that number, you control the game. The other thing I want to
get better at is just consistency. Going out there and limiting the bad
games. Your good games will come. It’s just limiting the bad, and just
in that, you’ll be a much better pitcher.
AL: Life here as a professional baseball player here in Arizona – wearing this Diamondbacks uniform – not a bad life, is it?
It’s been kind of a vacation out here. It’s been 88 to 90 degrees
everyday, you get to wear the big league uniform, you get the whole
nine yards, you get to play with the best talent – it’s a vacation
where you get to play baseball. It’s been so much fun out here,
especially being in Arizona at this time. I want to move out here
AL: With this whole Big League thing on the forefront, the move might come sooner than expected.
MS: I’d love to have that problem [laughs]. It would be a great problem to have.
Adam Loberstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.