Three-time Cy Young winner returns for the Texas Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer is scheduled to make his season debut for the Texas Rangers on Sunday in a start against the Kansas City Royals.

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Scherzer hasn't pitched for the Rangers since Game 3 of the World Series last fall. He underwent surgery in the offseason to repair a herniated disk in his lower back, and while rehabbing this season he felt pain in his right thumb that team doctors later identified as a nerve problem extending into his right triceps.

“I've been waiting to get here for the last six weeks,” Scherzer said before Saturday's game. “I can't wait. I can't wait to get there.”

His return to the Rangers comes in their first series since hosting the New York Mets earlier this week, the team that traded Scherzer to Texas last year.

Scherzer, who turns 40 on July 27, struck out 17 hitters and had a 4.91 ERA in three rehab appearances for Triple-A Round Rock. The first was on April 24, but then he was sidelined by a nerve problem until the other two on June 9 and 15.

Scherzer said his debut was postponed for a day out of an “abundance of caution” because he had lost some grip on pitching in recent days.

“I know I can go out there and throw and compete. I just want to stay healthy.”

In his last rehab outing, Scherzer struck out eight players in 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and three runs. He threw 55 of his 79 pitches as strikes.

Manager Bruce Bochy said there is no specific number of throws set for him.

“We'll watch the game and see how he feels in each inning,” Bochy said. “He's worn himself out. We're not going to put any limits on him.”

After being traded last summer, Scherzer went 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA in eight starts for Texas, the last of which came in the regular season on Sept. 12, before going down with a strained shoulder muscle. He returned to make two starts in the American League Championship Series and then Game 3 of the World Series before exiting after three innings because of his back.

With 3,367 strikeouts, 214 wins and 448 games started, he ranks second among active pitchers, trailing only Justin Verlander in each of those categories.

Scherzer said he has successfully completed rehab after back surgery in December, but is concerned about his future as a pitcher because of nerve problems.

“This nerve thing can cause long-term damage and affect the arm,” he said. “I've been struggling with this thumb thing for a year and would love to see solutions to it, but it is what it is.”

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