02/21/2013 5:30 PM ET
Nats sign pitcher Young to Minor League deal
By Joey Nowak and Andrew Simon / MLB.com
The Nationals increased their crop of starting pitching depth Thursday, signing veteran right-hander Chris Young to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
The 33-year-old made 20 starts for the Mets last season, going 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA, 80 strikeouts and 36 walks in 115 innings. He was coming off shoulder surgery that limited him to four big league outings in 2011.
Standing 6-foot-10, Young was an All-Star for the Padres in 2007, but has been slowed by injury problems, averaging 12 starts per year over that span. He owns a 53-43 record over nine big league seasons, with a 3.79 ERA and averages of 7.6 strikeouts and 3.5 walks per nine innings.
After first 'pen session, Haren lists spring goals
VIERA, Fla. -- As Dan Haren took the mound to face hitters for the first time this spring, he was throwing to catcher Wilson Ramos, but it was the people he was throwing in front of that may have affected him most initially.
With a Thursday afternoon audience that included manager Davey Johnson, general manager Mike Rizzo and principal owner Mark Lerner, Haren was admittedly a little over-amped in his first bullpen session. Afterward, he had a conversation with Johnson that centered on mainly not trying to over-do it early.
"That's easier said than done when [Johnson's] watching and the owner is watching and the GM is watching, and stuff like that," Haren said. "But I feel good. I just wanted to go out and get a few things accomplished. I've got a lot of things I'm working on, and it's still really early."
The newest member of the Nationals' rotation said he intends to slow things down in his upcoming bullpen sessions before he makes his first Spring Training start Feb. 27 against the Marlins. Haren said, at this point, he's spending most of his time talking to Ramos, catcher Kurt Suzuki and pitching coach Steve McCatty. Haren says one of his primary objectives this spring is to develop his fastball and cutter on the right side of the plate.
"A lot of my game is on the left side of the plate with cutters and fastballs," Haren said. "But toward the end of last season in September, I started doing some different things on the right side of the plate with my cutter and fastball and working them in together out there, and started having a lot of success. But it's still a work-in-progress."
Jordan Zimmermann, who also threw BP on Thursday, said much of his focus this spring has been on his changeup and finding the confidence to throw it regularly.
"It was good today," Zimmermann said. "I threw quite a few of them. There was only one or two that were not so great, but the other ones were the bottom of the zone, a good speed differential."
Zimmermann admitted he didn't entirely trust the pitch last season, and also didn't know when best to throw it in games. But he's taking advantage of the opportunities in Spring Training to develop his confidence in it.
"I'm going to throw it a lot down here and see what happens," Zimmermann said. "I don't really care about the results down here. Just getting some work in with it and throwing it to someone other than your team."
Ailing Garcia undergoes MRI for right forearm
VIERA, Fla. -- Of the two things that ail Christian Garcia -- right forearm tightness and a stomach issue -- one has been cleared up while the Nationals pitcher is still waiting on the one issue that could potentially be more serious.
Bothered by a stomach ailment the last couple days, Garcia did not participate in his bullpen session on Wednesday -- though he did throw long toss -- and did not practice Thursday. He said he's feeling better, but also received an MRI for an issue with his right forearm.
He has not received those results, but Garcia -- who twice had Tommy John surgery while in the Yankees' organization -- doesn't believe it to be a major concern.
"As long as it's not my elbow or shoulder, it's something that at minimum we can get it fixed, in a short amount of time, too," Garcia said.
He said he only feels the tight pulling sensations when he throws his fastball, not any of his breaking pitches.
There was some concern that Garcia's stomach issue could be his appendix, but he says that possibility has been ruled out.
"[It's] a lot better than anywhere else," manager Davey Johnson said of the arm issue. "And it might be, who knows, it might be a bruise -- no telling what. But he doesn't have appendicitis, we know that. Because he had those stomach pains. Hopefully he'll be all right tomorrow."
Classic could have Bernadina traveling far and wide
VIERA, Fla. -- While Ross Detwiler will have a simple domestic flight out to Arizona, and Gio Gonzalez can make the drive down to Miami in three hours, fellow Nationals World Baseball Classic participant Roger Bernadina needs a travel agent to sort out his potential impending trips.
The three are each set to participate in the event -- Detwiler and Gonzalez playing for Team USA, with Gonzalez expected to only participate if the U.S. makes it to the second round, and Bernadina for the Netherlands -- but it'll be Bernadina racking up the frequent flyer miles should his team advance.
The Netherlands opens pool play on March 2 at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan, against Korea. The team then plays March 5 against Australia. Should the Netherlands advance to the second round, play begins on March 8 in Tokyo. The championship round is at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
"That's part of the job now," Bernadina said. "That's just the way it is. I'm looking forward to it."
The Nats have four players from the organization playing for the Dutch team, though the other three are Minor Leaguers: Robbie Cordemans, Spencer Kieboom and Randolph Oduber. Top Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar recently said he will not participate, but young Braves standout Andrelton Simmons is expected to bat leadoff and play shortstop for the team.
As for Bernadina, he said he began his offseason workouts a little sooner this winter, but he is trying to keep everything else the same as the World Baseball Classic nears and the Nationals prepare to open their Spring Training schedule on Saturday.
"You've been sitting for like three months not doing anything, and you've got to quickly get used to it with the bat speed and everything like that," Bernadina said. "But it's just a matter of time. I have to be ready for whatever. I'm just going to go play my game, and see what happens from there."
• As planned, Stephen Strasburg will start the Nationals' first Spring Training game on Saturday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The listed relievers for the opener are Craig Stammen, Brandon Mann, Fernando Abad, Erik Davis, Cole Kimball and Patrick McCoy.
Zimmermann will start Sunday against the Marlins in the spring home opener. He's slated to be followed by Zach Duke, Yunesky Maya, Jeremy Accardo, Will Ohman, Drew Storen and Tanner Roark.
• Davey Johnson said he intends to use Ramos as a designated hitter for the first home game Sunday, and likely every other game for a short while thereafter.
"I just want to give him the time to not rush into it," Johnson said. "But he's looking great. He's doing more than his share of catching."
• Pitcher Henry Rodriguez is expected to throw from a mound for the first time either Sunday or Monday.