Young available off bench, Gray feels good after first bullpen session

Jacob Young is available off the bench for Saturday’s game after departing in the top of the fifth inning of Friday’s 9-3 victory over the Blue Jays.

While batting leadoff and playing center field, Young was 1-for-2 with a leadoff double in the third, coming around to score the Nats’ first run of the night, but was replaced two innings later by Jesse Winker with back spasms, manager Davey Martinez confirmed after the game.

The 24-year-old outfielder was seen in the Nats clubhouse this afternoon coming back from the batting cages with his bat and gloves, presumably taking swings to test out his back. Although he’s not in the starting lineup, with Alex Call taking over in center field and CJ Abrams bumped back up to the leadoff spot, Martinez said Young should be available to either pinch-hit or pinch-run.

“He's better today. He's better,” Martinez said of Young. “He'll be available, maybe, to come off the bench. Pinch-hit or pinch-run or something. But he's doing better.”

Even though Young is feeling better, Martinez did not play with the idea of putting him back in the starting lineup today.

“No, after he came out like that, I gotta give him some time,” the skipper said. “Hopefully, we don't need him. But he could possibly pinch-run.”

Today’s forecast is cold and rainy, so the weather also played a factor in Martinez’s decision to keep Young out of the lineup for now.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “I just figured I'd give him a day. And we'll see how he feels. See if he gets better throughout the game and then see how he feels tomorrow. Knowing that we got Monday off, too, so it'd be nice.”

Young is slashing .311/.354/.378 with a .733 OPS, 17 runs scored, five doubles and 12 stolen bases. Over his last 20 games, he is 22-for-60 (.367) with five doubles, seven RBIs, a walk, 11 stolen bases and 15 runs scored, while hitting safely in seven straight games.

The weather did not keep Josiah Gray from throwing his first bullpen session since landing on the 15-day injured list 3 1/2 weeks ago with a right flexor strain.

The right-hander threw 30-35 pitches, not exceeding 35, off a bullpen mound this morning with positive results. Crossing that hurdle sets him up to do it again in a couple of days, with the Nationals hoping he doesn’t need a slow ramp-up before returning to the rotation.

“Good. He felt good,” Martinez said of Gray. “So the next step, again, will be to throw another one in about three or four days. We'll see how his recovery is. He says he feels fine. So he'll throw another one here probably either Tuesday or Wednesday.”

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