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Max Scherzer likely to miss Washington Nationals opener

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws during the first inning of Game 5 of baseball's National League Division Series, against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer probably will miss the Washington Nationals opener against Miami on April 3 because of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

The stress fracture caused Scherzer to change the grip on his fastball, placing three fingers on top of the ball instead of two.

Scherzer has thrown batting practice twice during spring training but has not appeared in a big league exhibition game. He was scheduled to pitch in a minor league exhibition Thursday.

Manager Dusty Baker says of Scherzer's opening-day availability: "At this point, probably no."

"Opening day I'm sure is important to him but not as important as the rest of the season," the manager adds.

A 32-year-old right-hander, Scherzer was 20-7 last season.

Baker says: "I'm sure he's not thinking DL. We're not thinking DL until that time gets here. If that time gets here, we'll make alternative plans."

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