Chris Young has not let an injury-riddled career get in the way of a solid year.
Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr. Getty Images
Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Young took an odd route to get to the big leagues, but once there, it looked like he was going to be a star with the San Diego Padres. Then injuries got in the way and he had to fight his way back to the Major Leagues. This year has been not like any other for Young, a standout starter for the Seattle Mariners.
Young, now 35-years old, was a highly coveted basketball and baseball player out of Highland Park High School in Texas, the same school that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and L.A. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw attended. Young ultimately chose to play both sports at Princeton University, and was named Ivy League rookie of the year in hoops and baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in 2000, his junior year. Even though Young decided to forgo his senior year and was assigned to the Class A Hickory Crawdads, it did not stop him from pursuing his degree in politics.1 The title of Young’s senior thesis: “The Impact of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball on Racial Stereotypes in America: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Stories about Race in the New York Times.” Young got his degree, but he had to wait a little longer to get to the big leagues. After going through the Pirates’ and Montreal Expos’ organizations, he landed in the Texas Rangers system and made his debut on August 24, 2004.
Young put up solid numbers in 2005 – 31 starts, 12-7 record, 4.26 ERA – but the Rangers traded him to San Diego before the 2006 campaign. Just like the previous year, Young took the mound as a starter 31 times, but improved to an 11-5 record and reduced his ERA to 3.46. He got the lone Padres victory in Game 3 of the N.L. Divisional Series against the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Young received an All-Star nomination in 2007, but finished the year at 9-8 and spent some time on the disabled list in the season’s second half due to a strained oblique muscle. From there until 2010 when the Padres let him go, Young was a frequent visitor to the DL with various arm injuries.
The New York Mets took a chance on him in 2011, but an arm injury cut Young’s season to only four starts before the Mets shut him down for all of 2011. The Mets brought him back in 2012 with a minor league deal, and he split time between the minors and majors. He finished the regular season with just a 4-9 won-loss record despite a decent 4.15 ERA.
Young was a free agent again in the offseason, but not for long as the Washington Nationals signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Though the Nats released him during Spring Training, they re-signed him before the season started. Again, injuries derailed his season and he was relegated to the minor leagues. (He reached Triple-A Syracuse, but got no further). Washington let Young go a second time, this time on March 25 of this year’s Spring Training.
Only two days later, Young signed with Seattle for a one-year, $1.25 million. This past Sunday, Young tossed six scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers and captured his twelfth win of the year.
This year, Seattle has had a very solid starting rotation thanks to Cy Young Award candidate Felix Hernandez along with Hisashi Iwakuma. But Young’s contribution to the rotation and the club has not gone unnoticed.
“He’s been a godsend,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said to Sports Illustrated. Young’s 3-0, 2.12 record in August is one of the primary reasons the Mariners are in the mix of the AL wild card race.
Young’s contract with Seattle is up after this year, and if he remains injury-free the rest of the way, he will have made a case for the M’s to keep him.
1 – ESPN.com
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Brandon Karsten is a contributor to Designated Four Assignment. He can be found on Facebook or contacted by email at email@example.com.