WASHINGTON -- Almost two weeks after he opted out of his contract and was given his unconditional release by the Nationals, right-hander Chris Young has returned to the club, signing a Minor League contract on Thursday afternoon. He does not have an opt-out clause in his contract this time around.
Manager Davey Johnson announced that if the Nationals needed an emergency starter, Young would be the first person they call on. Before Thursday, left-hander Zach Duke was the emergency starter. Duke will remain as the long man in the bullpen.
Young originally signed a Minor League contract with Washington on Feb. 21, before allowing four earned runs in 16 innings during the Grapefruit League season.
"I think he looked a lot like Chris Young," said executive VP of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo. "His velocity was down a tick but he's not a velocity guy.
"He was starting to get the touch and feel of his fastball and starting to get that zone he has to pitch in, which is a little unique for right-handed pitchers. He has to pitch a little up in the zone, but not too far up in the zone. So he was starting to get the touch and feel for where his spot has to be."
Young will go to Viera, Fla., to get stretched out and then report to Triple-A Syracuse in about 10-12 days.
"I like him," Johnson said of Young. "He threw the ball well this spring. He pitched really well, [he's] a competitor. He is great insurance."
Johnson said he was surprised no team picked up Young, considering the spring he had with Washington. "He had a good spring for us. It was probably late in [Spring Training]. A lot of clubs are going with the young guys," Johnson said.
After recovering from shoulder surgery last season, Young started 20 games for the Mets, going 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA. Young ended the season strong, posting a 2.73 ERA in five September starts.
During his brief time with the Nationals, Young talked about how much he enjoyed playing with the club.
"They have been unbelievable," Young said. "This is a first-class organization from top to bottom. There is not a bad thing I can say about this place. They have done it right the whole time."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.