Spring training blog: Newest Nat shows up in camp

Washington Nationals\' Bryce Harper (34) and Ryan Zimmerman (11) run the bases during spring training baseball in Viera, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

VIERA, Fla. – Right-handed pitcher Chris Young showed up to Nationals camp today after agreeing to a Minor League contract on Thursday afternoon with the intent of adding more pitching depth to the club.

Young pitched for the Mets last season and went 4-9 in 20 games with an ERA of 4.15. In the previous two seasons, Young was limited to just eight games because of shoulder problems which required surgery.

“He’s a veteran Major League starting pitcher,” said Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo.

“He’s had success not only in this league, but in our division, specifically. He gives us depth that we were looking for coming into spring training. It’s part of our plan to be as deep as we can,” Rizzo said.

With a rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Dan Haren, Rizzo knows you can never have enough depth, especially in the pitching department.

“It’s hard to count on five starters throughout the whole season,” he said.

“We’re taking precautions. If something were to happen that we have a legitimate, quality, Major League pitcher in the fold.”

Young decided to sign with the Nationals after watching them from the other side of the field, impressed with what he saw.

“It’s an opportunity to be part of a winning organization, at this point a model organization,” Young said.

“I’ve played against these guys for a while and they are extremely talented and certainly, that factored into the decision greatly,” Young said.

In nine big league seasons, Young is 53-43 with a lifetime ERA of 3.79. He was part of the Expos organization and he has had also had stints with the Rangers and Padres.

Zimmerman’s workout

Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman continues his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.

Zimmerman has been hitting in the cages in recent days, but today he let it loose in live BP at Space Coast Stadium during the Nats full workout. Zimmerman was throwing at about 90-feet, but hasn’t yet thrown across the diamond yet as the club wasn’t able to take it slow with his throwing plan. He did smoke some line drives into the outfield during his BP session.

“Everything went good,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve been hitting in the cages so it wasn’t like today was the first day. Hitting is great. Hitting is farther along than throwing which is expected. Throwing, we are just going to take our time and go from there,” Zimmerman said.

The plan is to have Zimmerman go through a couple of throwing session on Saturday, again from 90-feet. It’s a slow progression but Zimmerman feels is the right course of action to take since there is still a long way to go in spring training.

“Everything has felt fine hitting and we have no set back either way,” Zimmerman said.

“Throwing, we’ve had one or two bad days and that’s about it. You work and get a little bit more confident each time you throw and get a little less hesitant each time out and that’s kind of the process and why we’re taking it so slow. You are basically teaching yourself how to throw again, which is good,” he said.

Good news for Gio

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez received some welcome news from the Major League Baseball Players Association that he has tested negative for performance enhancing drugs.

The 21-game winner from last year spoke to reporters in the dugout at Space Coast Stadium.

“Like I said before, I have never taken performance enhancing drugs and never will,” Gonzalez said.

“Two days after the story broke, I was tested for blood and urine and both came out negative like I expected. Throughout my entire career, it’s been like that. I look forward to handling this with MLB and putting this behind me and looking forward to the season,” he said.

Gonzalez did not take questions from the media because of the on-going investigation by Major League Baseball.

Meet the Mets

The Nationals start the Grapefruit League season on Saturday with a 12:10 p.m. start time against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Stephen Strasburg will pitch for the Nationals.

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