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Right-hander Chris Young tossed five scoreless innings against the Marlins.
"I do feel like I'm a big-league pitcher," the veteran right-hander said. "To turn down a big-league opportunity to go to Triple-A is probably not in my best interest. If I'm weighing Triple-A options, this would be at the top of my list. If I'm comparing a big-league opportunity to a Triple-A option, I think you guys would all do the same thing."
If Young was hoping to make a late push to convince another team he's good enough to start in the majors come April, he certainly picked an opportune time to do it this afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. He tossed five scoreless innings against the Marlins, scattering two hits and a walk and needing only 64 pitches during what was by far his best outing of the spring.
Young's velocity still doesn't wow scouts -- he topped out today at 84 mph -- but he proved effective against Miami's lineup, retiring eight batters in a row at one point and even inducing three swings-and-misses out of the fearsome Giancarlo Stanton.
"I don't know where my velocity is [and] I really don't care," he said. "I've never relied on velocity. And actually, when I've had better velocity, I've given up more foul balls and not as many quick outs. So sometimes it's run my pitch count up. So I really don't pay attention to it."
Now comes the biggest question regarding Young this spring. Free to opt out of his deal with the Nationals on Sunday, the 33-year-old must wait and see if another organization offers him a chance to pitch in the majors come Opening Day. If not, he'll report to Class AAA Syracuse and wait for the Nationals to summon him at some point along the way.
The Nationals' perspective on the matter is clear: They want Young to stay and serve as insurance in case one of their five rotation members gets injured.
"He's a heck of a pitcher," said manager Davey Johnson, who plans to start Young Monday night against the Astros. "He knows how to pitch. We've certainly had troubles with him when we faced him, and he's the same kind of guy. He reads hitters well, mixes his pitches up, doesn't give in to anybody."
Young said he'll talk to his agent, Jon Fetterolf, and meet with Johnson, pitching coach Steve McCatty and general manager Mike Rizzo in the next few days and try to determine both the interest from other clubs and what the Nationals have in store should he remain in the organization.
"There's a lot of stuff that I'm going to have to evaluate," the 2007 All-Star said. "I love it here. I've had a great spring. I love being around these guys. It's a lot of fun. Just being around a winning team, it's so much fun. You can tell how good this team is, and it's fun to be around. ...
"There's nothing not to like about being here. But I'm realistic that this staff is so deep there's 12-14, maybe 15 pitchers deep here. There are a lot of guys who wouldn't be good enough to make this staff."