JUPITER, Fla. — The Washington Nationals would love if Chris Young was around to make his next start for them, in Kissimmee, Fla., on March 25. They’d love it if he decided to stay with the organization even if it means he’ll likely open the year with Triple-A Syracuse. They’d love to know they have someone of his caliber as an insurance policy in case one piece of their talented starting rotation suffers an injury.
Here are a few excerpts from his thoughts on the topic today, after he pitched five scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins:
On how he thinks the next week or so will play out for him: “I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller. I’m trying not to focus on it. My focus has been on trying to get ready for the season, continue to improve, continue to have good bullpens, have good games. I’m feeling good. I’m happy where I am, the progress I’ve made, and I don’t know. I can’t predict how things are going to play out.”
On if he’ll have a better feel for it before March 24: “I hope so. I don’t know what the rules are regarding that. It’s something my agent and I will discuss and see if there are any opportunities out there, and see where they may be.
“There’s a lot of stuff that I’m going to have to evaluate. I love it here. I’ve had a great spring. I love being around these guys. It’s a lot of fun. Just being around a winning team, it’s so much fun. You can tell how good this team is and it’s fun to be around. The coaching staff’s been unbelievable from (pitching coach Steve McCatty) and (manager Davey Johnson), (general manager) Mike Rizzo’s been awesome, even my experiences with Mark Lerner. Everything’s been great. So, I can’t say.
“There’s nothing not to like about being here. But I’m realistic that this staff is so deep there’s 12-14, maybe 15 pitchers deep here. There are a lot of guys who wouldn’t be good enough to make this staff.”
On if he understood that going in: “Yeah. It was part of it. It was something I took into consideration, but the opportunity to be around this group of guys, being in this environment, I felt like it was worth it to me.”
On if he would consider going to Triple-A for them: “It depends on what the alternatives are. Until I know what else is out there, I can’t say that. I do feel like I’m a big league pitcher. To turn down a big league opportunity to go to Triple-A is probably not in my best interest.
“If I’m weighing Triple-A options, this would be at the top of my list. If I’m comparing a big-league opportunity to a Triple-A option, I think you guys would all do the same thing.”
On what he still needs to do this spring: “There’s still innings to build up. Today I went five. It’s been about one extra inning each outing. You want to go at least six before you start the season, or get your pitch count close to 90, and then your first time out you feel like you can get to 100 if you need to. And then just sharpness and command comes along, too. Even in April, you’re still working on things and improving. For me in the past, it hasn’t felt really locked in until the season begins and even a few weeks after that.”
On if he could see himself gaining velocity: “I don’t know where my velocity is, I really don’t care. I’ve never relied on velocity. It helps. And actually when I’ve had better velocity, I’ve given up more foul balls and not as many quick outs. So sometimes it’s run my pitch count up. So I really don’t pay attention to it. I try to make good pitches. My arm strength is not where it will be. I don’t think anybody’s is, for that matter. It comes as the season progresses. But it’s going to keep getting better and better.”