LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals set a firm plan for right-hander Chris Young on Friday, slightly altering what had been a loose outline. Young will start in a minor league game on Monday, March 4, when the Nationals have their first off-day of the spring.
Young will then assume Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation on March 9 after the left-hander departs for the World Baseball Classic, according to pitching coach Steve McCatty.
Detwiler is scheduled to pitch Sunday, his final start before departing for Arizona and joining Team USA, and the original idea had been to have Young follow Detwiler to the mound to get in his first game of the spring. But in order to keep Young on regular rest, as he’s still in the early stages of the spring, the Nationals opted to get him in the minor league game on Monday instead.
Young threw live batting practice on Wednesday and said on Thursday that he felt he could be ready to pitch in a game soon, though he declined to put a percentage on how close he might be.
“It’s just work,” he said. “It’s a gradual process. You slowly build up. You try to go at it with a good intensity but as the games and competitive situations come along the intensity increases and you sort of get more and more into it.”
Young is a bit behind the rest of the Nationals’ pitchers in his progress because he did not sign with the team until Feb. 21, but with such a long spring, and the opportunity to pitch with two of the Nationals’ starters pitching in the WBC, he should be able to catch up with ease.
“You still want to be in camp,” Young said, asked if the long spring allowed him a little less stress in free agency as it got closer to spring. “You want to get familiar with your teammates, you want to be in a baseball environment. You can work out on your own at home as much as you want but it doesn’t seem the same as being in a real baseball environment. It didn’t really play that big a factor into the process it just needed time to play out.”
Young does have an opt-out clause in his minor league contract that he can exercise on March 24.