Chris Young is looking for normalcy
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP)
For some guys, the word ''normal'' sounds boring.
''Everything feels great,'' said the 31-year-old Young, who missed almost all of last season with a shoulder injury. ''It's been a normal spring training for me, normal preparation leading into spring training and, once I've been here, on a normal throwing routine.
''It's been great to go through a normal program without any setbacks or juggling any days. It's been great so far.''
The 6-foot-10 Young, who was a two-sport star at Princeton, signed with Mets in the offseason. He's struggled with shoulder injuries the past two seasons. He had surgery in August 2009 to repair partial tears in his labrum. He worked hard in spring training with the Padres last season to get himself ready for the start of the season.
Too hard in fact. Young pitched one game for the Padres in April, but didn't pitch again until September.
''I was six months out of surgery trying to pitch in big league games. At the time you think you can do it. You want to tell yourself it doesn't hurt, so I'm fine, but I probably lost sight of the big picture which is being healthy for an entire season versus pushing it to be ready for opening day.''
Young, who went 39-26 with a 3.66 ERA for the Texas Rangers and Padres from 2005-2008, started three games for the Padres in September. He went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 20 innings.
''It was big, probably more mentally than physically.,'' Young said . ''Physically I wouldn't have been out there if I didn't feel comfortable with my arm.
''Mentally, I needed to know that my stuff was still good enough to compete. It was good psychologically to get back out there.''
The Mets saw enough from Young to sign him to a one-year, $1.1 million contract that could be worth $4.5 million if he reaches incentives tied to starts and innings pitched.
''To me he looks healthy,'' said Mets pitcher Chris Capuano, another newcomer who has been hampered by injuries. ''He's got a unique build. He can't help but throw the ball at a very steep downhill angle which all of us pitchers try to do. But he just does it so effortlessly.
''Out of the gate he looks healthy to me. I don't see any hesitation or anything that would indicate he's not completely over his injury from a couple years ago.''
There was some concern that Young's fastball had lost some velocity when he pitched at the end of 2010, but he's not concerned.
''I worry about results,'' he said. ''I gave up two earned runs. I don't care what my velocity is. I don't think anybody cares if you're producing. That's the bottom line - production.''
Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran said that Young's size makes his velocity deceptive.
''It's an adjustment,'' Beltran said. ''It's the same thing when you're facing Randy Johnson. He's a very tall pitcher. Myself, I have a tough time just picking up the ball from him because he hides the ball and you don't see the ball until the last moment.''
Young said the key for the team is the same as it for himself - stay healthy and perform up to their capabilities.
''This year, I think most people would say this team is more talented than the San Diego team I was on last year,'' Young said. ''With the talent we have here, if we play the game the right way and keep people healthy, good things are going to happen. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people.''