SEATTLE ? As the schedule prepares to enter September, Mariners right-hander Chris Young already is navigating territory ? at 150-plus innings ? he hasn’t seen in seven years.
?I just want to finish strong,? he said. ?That’s my only goal. I want the best chance for finishing strong to help the team. I have six more starts, and I want to make every one count.?
The Mariners have pushed Young’s starts back twice since he lasted a season-low 3? innings on Aug. 23 in Boston. When he starts Monday in Oakland, it will be almost as if he skipped a turn in the rotation.
?I think we’ve tried to be careful with him throughout the year,? manager Lloyd McClendon said. ?We’ve really watched the number of pitches that he throws. Not so much the innings.
?He is veteran guy, but he is coming off the injury. He’s responded very well.?
Young, 35, is a strong candidate for any comeback-of-the-year awards. He is 12-6 with a 3.17 ERA in 26 games after enduring years of shoulder miseries. He pitched fewer than 100 innings in four of the past five seasons.
?No,? Young insisted. ?Not at all. I hope to stay that way. I’m ready to go Monday. It’s all relative, too, because I look at where I’ve been for the last five years. Anything is a lot better than that.?
His career turned around last June when, as a last resort, he opted for a new approach that sought to address his shoulder problem by treating the nerves: thoracic outlet decompression surgery.
?Since then,? he said, ?I’ve been 100 percent pain-free.?
Two late-season rehab starts in the Washington system offered encouragement. Young then pitched well in spring training. He couldn’t crack the Nationals’ rotation but remained hopeful.
?My shoulder feels like new,? he said. ?Knock on wood. It’s exciting for me. I’m hopeful there are great things ahead, and I’m excited to really make up for some lost time.?
Released by the Nationals in late March, he landed with the Mariners, who suddenly needed a starter after reaching a contract impasse with veteran lefty Randy Wolf.
The results have been beyond what anyone expected.
The goal, now, is to keep it going.
?This is the last chance for extended rest,? Young said. ?We’re in a stretch (starting Monday) where we play 27 games in 28 days. I feel it’s a good decision to make sure I’m 100 percent every time out.?