News and notes on the final workout day before spring games

VIERA, Fla. - Ready for a few fun facts about the Nationals' newest pitcher, Chris Young, who was signed to a minor league deal yesterday?

Young spent the 2003 season in the Expos' minor league system after being acquired from the Pirates in as part of a deal for Matt Herges, and pitched for high Single-A Brevard County and Double-A Harrisburg. He was traded to the Rangers in 2004 and broke into the big leagues with Texas that season.

The 6-foot-10 righty is tied with three others as the second-tallest player in major league history behind former Nats reliever Jon Rauch, who is 6-foot-11. Rauch and Young were teammates on the Mets last season.

Those two could have provided quite a frontcourt during Mets pick-up basketball games.

Speaking of hoops, Young actually played varsity basketball for Princeton, and led the 1999-2000 team in nearly every single major statistical category, averaging 13.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and posting 87 blocks and 40 steals. In 2002, he was offered a two-year contract to play for the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

The Wizards could probably use him, but instead he's with your Nationals.

The Nats have quite a few highly educated guys in their clubhouse now, with Young joining fellow Princeton alum Ross Ohlendorf and Stanford's Drew Storen. Ryan Zimmerman, who attended the University of Virginia, has some impressive educational credentials, as well.

Today is the last day of full-squad workouts before tomorrow's Grapefruit League opener against the Mets, so very few pitchers will be throwing this morning in order to rest up for game action over the weekend.

Manager Davey Johnson told reporters yesterday that closer Rafael Soriano will throw a bullpen session today, his second of spring. Soriano is a little bit behind the other pitchers because he was late to camp due to a visa issue, but even if he had been on time, the Nats wouldn't be rushing Soriano early on.

Johnson is content to let his veterans map out their own schedule early on, and Soriano likes building up slowly in camp and then getting in 8-10 innings during spring training games.

Johnson also told reporters that Henry Rodriguez, who is working back from elbow surgery, will throw his first bullpen session of the spring either Sunday or Monday. Rodriguez has been throwing off flat ground over the last week, and Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo have liked what they've seen from the hard-throwing right-hander.

Finally, Zimmerman will take live batting practice today, according to Johnson. Zimmerman (offseason shoulder surgery) has been progressing in his throwing program and hitting off flips, or light underhand tosses from in front of him. Today, he'll get his first real session hitting in a cage.

Just one more day until Stephen Strasburg toes the mound in Port St. Lucie and the Nationals' Grapefruit League season is underway.

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