After spending almost two weeks searching for a big league job outside of Washington, right-handed pitcher Chris Young has returned to the Nationals with a minor league contract. The 6’10” veteran will report to Viera, Florida to throw a few bullpen sessions before joining the Triple-A affiliate Syracuse Chiefs. General manager Mike Rizzo said he expects Young to head north in 10-12 days.
Young was granted an unconditional release by the Nats on March 26 to seek offers from other teams after he opted out of his minor league deal with the club. He appeared in four spring training games with Washington, posting a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched. He allowed 11 hits, two home runs, and kept opponents to a .193 batting average.
Young’s brief stint with the Nationals impressed manager Davey Johnson and left him surprised no one picked him up.
“He had a good spring for us. It was probably that late in the year that a lot of clubs are going with their young guys,” Johnson said.
“He threw the ball good this spring, pitched really well, he’s a competitor. He’s real great insurance.”
Johnson said Young will likely be the sixth starter if the situation presents itself, leaving lefty Zach Duke to remain in the bullpen. Johnson indicated Duke would be the emergency starter in March after Young was cut by the team.
Rizzo was happy to bring Young back for that sixth starter role. He told Mark Zuckerman that Young has no out clause in his minor league deal.
"He's a qualified, quality, major-league starting pitcher, gives us some additional depth in our rotation and a guy that could help us down the road," he said.
Young, 33, is a nine-year major league veteran with stops in Texas, San Diego, and with the Mets. In 159 career MLB games he holds a 53-43 record with a 3.79 ERA and 1.220 career WHIP. In 20 starts with New York last season he went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA.
Davey Johnson on Morse’s hot start in Seattle
Davey Johnson was asked about Michael Morse’s first week with the Seattle Mariners as the former National leads the majors through three games with three home runs. Swapping Morse out for Denard Span over the offseason changed the complexion of Washington’s lineup, but Johnson likes the new approach.
“I think there’s plenty of potential for long ball in the lineup. But the big thing is a lot of the younger guys in the lineup are becoming better hitters. I would rather have a better hitter then the long ball. You can do more damage when you’re a quality hitter and can get on base and can keep the line moving. And Denard Span has done that his whole career. We were very successful having Jayson do that, he got on base a lot and took a lot of pitches, but Denard does the same thing. I don’t worry about the long ball, there’s plenty of power in this lineup.”
Johnson said he watched Morse last night as he hit his third home run of the season against the Oakland Athletics and was impressed. The Nats skipper says Morse has modified his swing and “added some kinks.”
Nats manager not a fan of designated hitter
Johnson spoke before the game about his dislike of the American League designated hitter. He likes the way National League games are managed because there are more decisions to make as far as lineups and pulling pitchers from games.
“I just think there’s more strategy in the game. Baseball is a game of strategy. With the pitcher in the lineup it’s also self-policing. I like the offense you can throw out there with a DH. But I think it’s more challenging to manage when a pitcher is pitching a good ballgame and a couple of runners get on, when there’s a low pitch count and you have to try to get back into the ballgame. In the American League it’s real easy to read the pitcher, when he’s done he is done and it doesn’t affect your lineup.”
“I think it’s terrible that there is two standards and it’s been that way for a long time. I would like to see it the same.”
The Nationals open interleague play early this season with a series against the Chicago White Sox next week. He said he will likely hit the DH in the ninth spot with Tyler Moore the probable choice. He did say, however, depending on matchups he could send out Roger Bernadina or Chad Tracy to hit from the left-handed side.
Mike Rizzo on new partnership with Bloomberg Sports
On Thursday the Nationals announced a new deal with Bloomberg Sports to design a new program for scouting and baseball analytics. It helps scouts better evaluate games and talent using mobile devices and laptops.
"We did a lot of research on it, and I think it's a valuable tool for us. It's incredibly comprehensive, and it's something that's easy access," Rizzo said.
"The Bloomberg database is like our current database, microwaved. It's faster, bigger, more volume, more video. It's all inclusive, where you can include your scouting reports, your scouting video, your statistics, all in one-stop shopping."
Rizzo, an old school guy in many ways, says he thinks it will catch on even with the more veteran scouts in the organization.
"Some of them, it takes longer than others to get comfortable with it. And then we've got some veteran guys who are a little bit intimidated by it. But if I can figure it out, they can figure it out."