ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Max Scherzer of the Texas Rangers threw 40 pitches to hitters on Tuesday and expressed hope that he can begin a rehab assignment soon.

“Got to recover well from this,” Scherzer said. “Make sure my thumb is OK as I ramp back up into this. As long as I check that box, hopefully I can get out there on rehab.”

Manager Bruce Bochy, who watched the session from behind home plate, echoed the three-time Cy Young Award winner’s optimism.

“We’ll check on him tomorrow, a good chance he will start his rehab possibly,” Bochy said. “I think that’s the way it’s leaning right now.”

Pitching coach Mike Maddux watched from behind the mound, while owner Ray Davis and general manager Chris Young were among team spectators in the dugout.

Scherzer had surgery in mid-December to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. The 39-year-old right-hander pitched one rehab outing on April 24 with Triple-A Round Rock, throwing 52 pitches. He was scratched from a second start because of right thumb soreness that team doctors later identified as a nerve issue that extended to his right triceps.

“Given that I’ve been dealing with this (thumb injury) for over a year, I’ve got to see if all the new exercises are going to do something,” Scherzer said.

The Rangers acquired Scherzer from the New York Mets in a deadline trade last July after the pitcher agreed to opt in on the final year of his contract for this season at $43.3 million. New York is paying $30.83 million of that to Texas in twice-monthly installments.

After the trade, Scherzer was 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA in eight starts for Texas, the last in the regular season on Sept. 12 before being sidelined by a muscle strain in his shoulder. He returned to make two starts in the American League Championship Series, then Game 3 of the World Series before exiting after three innings because of his back.

His 3,367 career strikeouts are the most among active pitchers, and he’s second on the active list with 214 wins and 448 games started.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb