PHOENIX -- From Tucson to Phoenix, as the crow flies, is a mere 110 miles. As hope soars, however, the distance is immeasurable. Thus Max Scherzer found himself Monday night in a different part of the same state, but in assuredly a different state of mind. "Definitely better here than in Tucson," said Scherzer, beginning his second day in the Major Leagues 10 months after signing his first pro contract.
Taken by Arizona in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft but not signed until minutes prior to the 2007 Draft last June, the 23-year-old right-hander got his bump up from Triple-A on Sunday. Joining the D-backs for their series finale in San Diego, Scherzer got a great view of the very acme of his profession, but little else. "[Brandon] Webb versus [Jake] Peavy ... can't complain about that," said Scherzer, referring to the duel between the National League's last two Cy Young Award winners, taken by Webb and the D-backs, 2-1. Being in the home clubhouse at Chase Field was a little different, and Scherzer was ready to trade in his spectator seat for something a little more involved. "It's exciting. This is what I've worked so hard for, to get to this place," he said, as the Diamondbacks began to file off the field following batting practice. "It's exciting to be part of this team, for however long." If it's exciting for Scherzer to merely be here, just wait 'til you see him in a game, enthused Arizona manager Bob Melvin. "He's got an electric arm. You [reporters] will be excited when you see him." Scherzer crackled for four starts in Tucson, ringing up 38 strikeouts in 23 innings, while issuing only three walks and allowing 12 hits and three earned runs. The Diamondbacks reached out to him because of an overburdened bullpen (average of three-plus innings the last six games), but they certainly aren't considering the role change permanently. Don't expect a Joba Chamberlain-in-the-desert controversy. "It's good that we're developing him as a starter," Melvin said. "It keeps our options open." Scherzer's quick arrival may be surprising, but he wouldn't call it unexpected. Because he didn't have any particular expectations. "If you throw strikes, things work themselves out," he said. "In the Minor Leagues, the only thing I focused on was making my pitches every time out. I wasn't thinking about what to expect." As the Diamondbacks returned to Chase Field to open a 10-game homestand, Melvin sounded almost anxious for a reason to wave Scherzer into his Major League debut. "I'm not looking for a soft landing for him," the manager said. "I'm just looking forward to getting him in and seeing what happens."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.