At 38, Young tries to win spot on Padres’ pitching staff
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — There’s some living history in the San Diego Padres’ clubhouse this spring.
Chris Young is back with the Padres and trying to earn a spot on the staff, whether it’s in the rotation or in the bullpen.
“Archaic, maybe, but I don’t know about historic,” the 38-year-old said with a laugh.
Actually, he is historic. Young is the last Padres pitcher to win a playoff game. On Oct. 7, 2006, the 6-foot-10 right-hander threw 6 2-3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball in the Padres’ 3-1 victory at St. Louis in Game 3 of their NL Division Series.
“I don’t know if that’s known throughout the clubhouse,” Young said. “We’ll see who figures it out.”
That’s how long it’s been since the Padres won a playoff game.
The guy who got the save that day, Trevor Hoffman, is going into the Hall of Fame this summer. The Padres’ catcher in that game, Mike Piazza, went into the Hall of Fame in 2016. The left fielder, Dave Roberts, is going into his third season as manager of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers after spending five seasons on San Diego’s staff.
The day after Young’s victory, the Padres were eliminated. They haven’t been back to the postseason since, although they came close the following season when they lost a wild-card tiebreaker at Colorado. That win remains San Diego’s only playoff victory since 1998.
Young is back with the Padres after seven years away, including missing all of 2013 with arm problems. He spent the last three seasons with the Kansas City Royals, earning the victory in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series, a 14-inning epic that sent the Royals on their way to their first title in 30 years.
“I feel good,” said Young, who’s in camp as a non-roster invitee. “I feel healthy, excited about the way the ball’s coming out right now. If I can come in and help this team win and be a veteran presence, San Diego has a very special place in my heart, some unbelievable memories. I was here when this team was good. The last winning season here I was part of, and I want to be part of the next, and the next playoff team as well.”
Young’s last season in San Diego, 2010, was the Padres’ last winning season.
“So I’ve been there. I remember the good times for this organization. I know how great the fans of San Diego are and how much it would mean to them to get back there. I would love to be part of it.”
Young agreed to a minor league contract on Dec. 22 and if added to the 40-man roster would get a $1 million, one-year deal with the chance to earn $6 million in performance bonuses: $4 million based on starts through 29 and $200,000 based on innings through 120. He is the oldest player in camp, with the most service time on a team that’s rebuilding and isn’t expected to contend for a season or two.
Manager Andy Green said Young’s chances to make the team are “real.” Young rejoined the Padres a day before Tyson Ross signed a similar deal. Ross appeared in just 12 games for Texas last season after recovering from surgery for a shoulder ailment in October 2016. He was San Diego’s opening day starter in 2016 but didn’t pitch again due to the shoulder ailment.
“Those guys are competing for rotation spots. And C.Y. has the ability to bounce to the bullpen; Tyson really hasn’t done that,” Green said. “But C.Y. could potentially find himself in that mix, but right now we’re looking at him specifically as a starter.”
Young pitched two hitless, scoreless innings Saturday in his spring debut.
“I’m not focused on the external, ‘Who else is in the room,’ or anything like that,” Young said. “What I’m focused on is me and going out and I know what I have to do to be a successful major league player. I’ve done it for a long time now and I know when I’m right that I belong in the big leagues, and when I’m not right, the results haven’t been good. If I’m pitching to my capabilities, I feel like I can help any club in the big leagues and I certainly want it to be here.”
Young was released by the Royals in mid-June with a 7.50 ERA in 14 appearances, including two starts.
Young has been reunited with former Royals teammate Eric Hosmer, who signed a $144 million, eight-year deal last week.
“He’s probably one of the most intelligent, brilliant teammates I’ve had,” Hosmer said. “What’s amazing to me is, C.Y., you talk to him off the field, he’s as polite as they come, but once that game starts, I don’t think there’s anybody who competes more than he does. It’s little things like that, when he’s on the mound, it drives you to do what you can to win a ballgame.”
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