Owings goes yard, Young happy with his progress (Nats win)

VIERA, Fla. - Micah Owings’ power is as advertised.

Owings crushed a grand slam way out to right field in the seventh inning, his second home run of spring, giving the Nationals a 6-3 lead.

A former pitcher attempting to make the transition to a position player, Owings has really impressed with his bat this spring. He now is batting .368 in 19 at-bats, and five of his seven hits are for extra bases.

Owings needs to work on his defense at first base and the outfield, and prove that he can consistently produce with the bat. But what a story it would be if he’s able to make it back to the big leagues as a hitter.

Chris Young was pretty pleased with his four-inning outing this afternoon. He surrendered a leadoff home run on a high fastball and gave up four hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts, but felt like he was better today than his last time out.

“Today was progress for sure. A step in the right direction,” Young said. “Command was a little bit better. Still not exactly where I want it, but it’s still spring training. Overall, I think there were some positives. I think the ball felt like it was coming out pretty good. Just a step in the right direction, but there’s still work to be done. Keep working.”

Young said his felt his fastball command was solid today, especially on the arm side. He worked fastballs in on right-handed hitters well and was able to get swings and misses by elevating in the zone.

The 33-year-old doesn’t have a spot waiting for him in the Nats’ rotation, and as a result his future is uncertain. But he says he’s not approaching his starts any differently this spring than he did in the past.

“To me, I’m not thinking about auditioning,” he said. “I’m just focused on going out and making good pitches. I know what I’m capable of doing when I feel healthy. I feel healthy, I feel strong, I feel like arm issues are behind me and I’m excited for a great season. So that’s my focus - on preparing for a season, preparing the same way I always do. I’m not caught up in results at this point. Just physically feeling good and just going to hone in on the things I need to improve on and be ready for opening day, whenever that comes.”

Henry Rodriguez pitched a scoreless eighth and Tyler Clippard worked the ninth, and the Nats took a 6-3 win over the Astros.

Back with more in a bit.

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