Young opts out of deal with Nats, says he wants to return (Nats lose)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Shortly after allowing just one unearned run over four strong innings tonight against the Astros, Chris Young said that he has opted out of his minor league deal with the Nationals.

The Nats now have 24 hours to place Young on the 25-man roster - which is incredibly unlikely - or the veteran right-hander will become a free agent.

Young, 33, again said that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Nationals and added that his agent has had talks with the team about working out a new deal that would allow him to remain with the organization. Because the Nationals don't currently have room for Young in their rotation, such an arrangement would likely involve another minor league contract with a new opt-out date.

The priority for Young, however, is landing a big league deal.

"We talked about maybe trying to work something out to where I can stay," Young said. "We're not there right now. There's interest from other clubs and I just have to weigh all the options and see what's best for me and my family and my career.

"I will say this: I love it here. I would love to stay. This has been a terrific spring training being around a great group of baseball people. ... There's nothing negative to say about this place. Maybe that they have 15 pitchers deep. But aside from that, I'd like to work something out if I can be here, but I understand the circumstances. There are five great starters here and I realize there's no spot at this point."

Young said that he has not considered a bullpen role, and that topic hasn't been broached with the Nationals. Over the course of his nine-year career, he's appeared in 159 big league games. All 159 have been starts.

This spring, Young's fastball has topped out in the low-80s, but he's still found a way to be effective. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 12 innings and has posted a 2.25 ERA over four spring starts.

He admitted that this spring has been tough when it comes to putting the business side of things out of his mind, but he's had his first healthy spring in years and despite his 6-foot-10 frame, has been able to repeat his mechanics.

Young politely talked for over seven minutes with reporters about his future, but he couldn't say too much. He had yet to have full discussions with his agent, and until he gets briefed on where things stand, he isn't sure what will happen next.

He does hope he finds out soon, though.

"I won't sleep much if I don't," he said. "... I've been focusing on pitching. That's my goal - getting ready for the season - and I'm happy with where I am in that regard.

"I feel like I'm a major league pitcher and I can help out a major league team, but I'd also love to help out the Washington Nationals, whenever and however that may be."

Update: In non-Chris Young news, Craig Stammen got lit up for five runs on six hits over 1 1/3 innings, and the Nats lost to the Astros 6-4.

Newly-signed left-hander J.C. Romero made his Nats debut in the eighth inning, throwing a 1-2-3 frame with one strikeout.

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