VIERA, Fla. -- Max Scherzer's strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved steadily over the last three seasons, from 2.6 in 2010 to 4.3 last year, when he took home the American League Cy Young Award.
This spring, Scherzer has been operating on another level. Although he gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings during Thursday' 8-1 loss to the Nationals, he also racked up eight K's without issuing a free pass. In 20 Grapefruit League innings, the right-hander now has struck out 24 and walked one.
"Obviously it's nice to do in spring," Scherzer said. "You've got to do it during the season. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm going to be able to replicate it during the season, because that's a whole different animal. But given how I feel, the shape of everything that's going on, I definitely like where I'm at. Now it's just picking up the execution and finding ways to execute better."
Scherzer felt that was lacking at times on Thursday. He gave up three runs in the third inning, two on an Ian Desmond homer -- then two more before exiting in the sixth.
On the other hand, he's happy with the lack of walks.
"Honestly, it's a byproduct of having a great feel for my mechanics and repeating everything," he said. "I'm able to throw all my pitches for strikes, and I'm able to pitch backwards, even when it's 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 -- even in those counts, being able to throw offspeed for strikes and execute those pitches pretty well."
Now all that remains is trying to take that success into April.
"I'm ready," Scherzer said after throwing 91 pitches. "This is just getting my arm conditioned for 100 pitches and ready for my first start. So I'm ready to leave and go up to Detroit."
Anibal, Davis working their way back to action
VIERA, Fla. -- The Tigers are expecting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and outfielder Rajai Davis, both dealing with minor injuries, to be back in action soon.
Sanchez was scratched from his start on Tuesday with right shoulder inflammation, for which he received a cortisone shot. Manager Brad Ausmus said the right-hander played catch on Thursday at the Tigers' spring complex in Lakeland, Fla., and "felt fine."
Sanchez is scheduled to throw a bullpen session in Lakeland on Saturday, and if that goes well, he would be set to start on Monday against the Pirates.
Davis also was a scratch from Tuesday's lineup, thanks to a sore right hamstring. Following an off-day on Wednesday, he was out of the lineup on Thursday.
According to Ausmus, Davis received treatment, took some swings and participated in other baseball activities on Thursday in Lakeland. The tentative plan is for him to start on Friday against the Braves.
"I have him in there now, but I'd rather be cautious with a guy like that who depends on his legs so much," Ausmus said. "He could miss the next three games and still have plenty of time to get ready."