Mariners add big Chris Young to rotation mix

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves

Looking to improve their starting pitching options, the Mariners went big on Thursday. Big as in 6-foot-10 right-hander Chris Young, who signed a Major League deal and will immediately challenge for a rotation berth.

Young, 34, was a 2007 National League All-Star with the Padres who was released by the Nationals earlier this week.

To make room on their 40-man roster, the Mariners designated left-handed reliever Bobby LaFromboise for assignment.

Young spent last year with Triple-A Syracuse in the Nationals organization and had surgery in June to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, an issue he believes had been causing shoulder problems that led to two prior surgeries.

He posted a 3.48 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances with the Nationals this spring, allowing eight hits and four runs with four walks and nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.

Young is a nine-year Major League veteran with a career record of 55-43 with a 3.79 ERA, but he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2012 with the Mets when he was 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 starts.

He went 9-8 and ranked fifth in the National League with a 3.12 ERA with the Padres in 30 starts in 2007, but hasn’t pitched a full season since due to a variety of arm issues. When healthy, the former third-round Draft pick has proven to be a quality starter, but staying on the mound has been his biggest challenge.

The Mariners are looking for pitching depth after releasing veterans Randy Wolf and Scott Baker earlier this week. With All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma sidelined until at least mid- to late-April by a sprained finger tendon and top young prospect Taijuan Walker just beginning to throw in Minor League outings after a sore shoulder slowed his camp, Seattle was down to five healthy starting candidates.

Felix Hernandez is scheduled to make his seventh Opening Day start on Monday in Anaheim and Erasmo Ramirez will follow on Tuesday. Manager Lloyd McClendon has yet to announce his other starters, but young left-hander James Paxton appears to be lined up to pitch the third game and rookie Roenis Elias has pitched well this spring and also is contending for a spot.

If he’s ready, Young could compete with Blake Beavan for the fifth spot in the rotation. The Mariners have yet to announce  a starter for their final Cactus League game Saturday against the Rockies.

Hernandez and Ramirez have already made their final spring starts.  Paxton is pitching in a Minor League game Thursday, since the Mariners are off. Elias will start Friday night against the Rockies in Scottsdale.

Young passed his physical with the Mariners on Thursday. He started two games this spring with the Nationals and last threw in relief on Saturday when he tossed 2 1/3 innings with one hit and no runs, no walks and three strikeouts against the Marlins.

Young is tied with Mariners Hall of Famer Randy Johnson for the second-tallest player in Major League history behind the 6-11 Jon Rauch. He earned a degree in politics from Princeton, where he played baseball and two seasons of basketball and was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in both sports in 1999.

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