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Scherzer appears ahead of schedule in return to Rangers from back surgery

Max Scherzer Texas Rangers Max Scherzer - The Canadian Press

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Max Scherzer said he didn't experience continuing nerve pain after back surgery, which the Texas Rangers right-hander had been told was fairly common for his procedure.

As a result, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has felt ahead of schedule for a return since the moment he got home following surgery.

Nearly four months later, Scherzer still feels that way, as does manager Bruce Bochy.

“I really feel like we’re kind of turning the corner here in terms of rehab,” Scherzer said Wednesday, the day after a 40-pitch bullpen session. “I’m recovering from things and kind of feeling normal. Looking good.”

The 39-year-old Scherzer, who is expected to throw live batting practice next week, has had a rough time frame of the summer for a return since undergoing surgery Dec. 15.

Jacob deGrom, the World Series champs' other multiple Cy Young winner with two, isn't quite as far along. The right-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Before the Rangers reported for spring training, deGrom talked of essentially being a trade-deadline addition along with Scherzer for Texas by coming back before the end of July.

Now, Scherzer appears well on his way to getting back before his 40th birthday, July 27.

“To have back surgery, I’ve been through that, and I’ve known guys that have been through it,” said Bochy, who turns 69 next week. “Let’s be honest. He’s not a spring chicken. For him to bounce back like this and be doing so well, yeah, I am amazed.”

Scherzer was a trade-deadline pickup for the Rangers last summer, and he was 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA in eight starts before missing the last two weeks of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs because of a strained muscle in his right shoulder.

He started twice in the AL Championship Series, but then was forced from his start in Game 3 of the World Series after three innings because of back discomfort. The surgery was about six weeks later.

“I had immediate relief,” Scherzer said. “I was able to get my strength back in my legs pretty quick so that when I did get the three-month clearance, my body was ready to go. I was in an extremely good position. That’s just allowed me to have kind of a normal ramp-up program.”

With emphasis on “normal,” from Scherzer's point of view.

“I’m not trying to cut corners,” he said. “I’m not trying to do anything more than what my body just allows me to.”

The eight-time All-Star has his manager feeling optimistic.

“He’s already moved the needle a couple of times of when he’ll be ready,” Bochy said. “He will be ready sooner than expected.”