In three Grapefruit League starts since he signed a minor league deal with Washington in late February, 33-year-old, nine-year veteran Chris Young has given up nine hits, six walks and four earned runs over 12.0 IP. A clause in the contract he signed with the Nationals allows the right-hander to opt out if he doesn't seem likely to make the major league roster on Opening Day. Last time out against Miami, Young threw 5.0 scoreless. The former Rangers, Padres and Mets' starter has one more chance to showcase his surgically-repaired shoulder tonight.
Young had surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder in 2011. Asked earlier this Spring if he would consider pitching at Triple-A Syracuse if he didn't make the Nats' Opening Day roster, Young said at the time, "It hasn't been something that's been talked about. It's not really a consideration at this point. If it becomes one, we'll discuss and see."
As the 3/24 opt-out date approached, Young said he would consider staying in the organization if there were no other major league offers out there. As Young told reporters including MLB.com's Bill Ladson yesterday, however, "'There are opportunities. I'm just trying to decide what is the best fit in a lot of different ways. I'm here to get myself ready for April 1 or whenever the season starts. That's the plan.'" MLB.com's Mr. Ladson quoted Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo in the article too, explaining that Young was likely to leave:
"'[Young] has an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues," Rizzo said on Friday. "We are certainly not going to keep him in the Minor Leagues if he has a chance at a big league job. That's only right. That's how we get these players to come with us under these conditions, because they know we are going to do right by them and treat them well.'"
Young is going to be on the mound tonight in Kissimmee, Florida's Osceola County Stadium when the Nationals once again take on the Bo Porter-led Houston Astros. The Nats are sending Young out (if he does indeed leave) with the A-lineup to make him look as good as possible:
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 25, 2013
Unfortunately for the Astros, they're going to have to face Henry Rodriguez as well. Which means either a wild high-90's heater flying toward the plate and possibly the backstop, or if the right-hander's under control, right by their bats. Davey Johnson told reporters before today's game that he wasn't worried about the elbow issues Rodriguez has been dealing with and plans to throw him against Houston:
Henry Rodriguez will pitch tonight for #Nats, Davey Johnson said. Doesn't believe elbow issue is serious.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) March 25, 2013
While you're waiting for tonight's game, check out Sports Illustrated's 2013 predictions. Spoiler? A lot of their writers like the Nationals. Check out their picks HERE. Game Time 6:05 pm EST. Tonight's game is available on MLB.tv, but it's the Astros feed, and the radio feed is from Houston as well. The Good News? It's MLB.tv's Free Game of the Day, so even if you're not a subscriber you can watch this one. Who's Watching the Nationals?