VIERA, Fla. - It’s not hard to spot Chris Young, so when I walked past the trainer’s room a bit earlier and saw a 6-foot-10 figure to my right, I knew the newest Nationals pitcher had arrived in camp.
Young, who the Nats signed to a minor league deal yesterday, will throw a bullpen session for the Nationals today and then the team will decide where he’s at in his throwing program and how best to utilize him over the next couple of weeks.
For now, general manager Mike Rizzo is just happy to have Young in camp, a guy who helps give the Nats the starting pitching depth they’ve been after.
“He’s a veteran major league starting pitcher,” Rizzo said. “He’s had success not only in this league but in our division specifically. He gives us the depth that we were looking for coming into spring training.
“It’s part of our plan for the season to be as deep as we can. We’ve got a good, young pitching staff, but it’s hard to count on five starters throughout the whole season. So we’re taking precautions in case something were to happen that we’ve got a legitimate, quality major league pitcher in the fold.”
Young posted a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Nats last season and is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA against Washington in his career. He finished last season strong with the Mets, recording a 2.73 ERA in his final five starts and putting up 23 strikeouts to eight walks.
“He was tough on us,” Rizzo said. “He had a good season in this division last year, and he’s always been tough on us. We like what he brings to the table.
“We saw him getting stronger and stronger as the season went by. He’s a guy that’s been on our radar for a while now, and he has ties to the D.C. area. It was a place that he wanted to come to.”
Barring an injury to one of the Nationals’ top five starters, Young will have a very tough time making the major league roster out of camp. Rizzo implied that Young has an opt-out in his deal in which he could refuse an assignment to Triple-A, but both sides will cross that bridge when they come to it.
“We discussed that,” Rizzo said. “It’s his choice if he wants to go to Triple-A or not, but we’ve had some discussions. I think if it’s in his best interest to go there, he certainly will.”
Because Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez are on Team USA’s roster for the World Baseball Classic, there could be some opportunities for starters in camp on minor league deals to get some innings during Grapefruit League games.
Veteran righty Ross Ohlendorf does not have an opt-out, Rizzo said, so he could provide depth in the rotation at Triple-A Syracuse. Rizzo also singled out Tanner Roark and Yunesky Maya as guys who have thrown well early in camp and could be key parts of Syracuse’s rotation.
“With the addition of Young and possibly some others down the road, we feel that we’re going to be protected in rotation depth,” Rizzo said.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have posted their travel roster for tomorrow’s Grapefruit League opener at Port St. Lucie against the Mets.
Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi are among the guys who will make the trip.
We could also get a look at Anthony Rendon and Matt Skole, two impressive minor leaguers who will be on the trip.
Others on the travel roster include catchers Sandy Leon, Carlos Maldonado, Chris Snyder and Jhonatan Solano, infielders Chris Marrero, Micah Owings, Will Rhymes, Carlos Rivero and Zach Walters and outfielders Corey Brown and Eury Perez.
I listed the pitchers who will make the trip yesterday, but here it is again with some minor tweaks: Stephen Strasburg, Craig Stammen, Cole Kimball, Bill Bray, Pat McCoy, Erik Davis and Fernando Abad.