Chris Young stood out near the center field fence an hour before the game began Tuesday evening, long-tossing with catcher Josh Thole. It was just a normal pregame ritual for Young, but normal was all that he was seeking.
Young was making his return to the mound for the first time since April 10, once again having to prove that he was healthy. So the three solo homers he served up, the four-pitch walk to the opposing pitcher and lasting just 4 2/3 innings wasn't nearly as important as the simple fact that he felt fine.
Young wouldn't exactly admit that, insisting that the win -- a 6-4 victory for the Mets over the Washington Nationals -- was what he wanted. But still, peace of mind was a necessary ingredient for a pitcher who has been known more for his aches and pains than performance in recent years.
"I felt really good," Young said. "I felt like the ball had pretty good life. Just the command wasn't as sharp as I'd like. (It's) just a function of having 15 days off. I threw some good pitches and obviously not as many as I'd like. But we won the game so I'm happy."
He made his return from the disabled list and he responded with 88 pitches. So for a day the Mets could push aside the other concerns. They could ignore the three home runs that Young served up -- two to Wilson Ramos and one to Jayson Werth. They could ignore the four-pitch walk that Young issued to Jordan Zimmermann and maybe even that the pitches topped out at 86 miles per hour on the three homers.
Young found himself on the disabled list after just two starts this season. They were very good starts, going 5 1/3 innings with just one run allowed and seven strikeouts in his debut this year and then a seven-inning, one-hit outing on April 10. Young then was shut down with right biceps tendinitis, the official diagnosis sounding less ominous than what really concerned Young -- that the pain was in the front of his right shoulder.
Young made just four starts last season after trying to return from surgery to repair that same shoulder. He made his first start of the season for the Padres, then was sidelined until September when he returned for three more starts in the heat of a pennant race. This time he took no chances, went on the 15-day disabled list even though he insisted he could have pitched, and came back and said he was fine.
"The rehab went according to plan -- the time off, the rest," Young said. "And I didn't feel anything. The shoulder felt great. The weather was nice. I was able to get loose between innings. I didn't think about my shoulder once."
"He says he feels fine," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I thought he was starting to run out of gas. I would've liked to get another (inning) out of him."
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