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Young perfect in two innings in bullpen debut

OAKLAND -- Chris Young well remembers the only other time before Sunday he has pitched out of the bullpen while wearing a Major League uniform.

"It didn't go well," Young said with a smile. "It was the 2007 All-Star Game. Ichiro hit an inside-the-park home run off me."

Young, 34, made a better showing Sunday in his first regular-season relief appearance, as the 6-foot-10 right-hander threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts for the Mariners in a 6-3 loss to the A's.

Now in his 10th big league season, Young has made 159 career starts, and he signed with the Mariners two weeks ago to be their fifth starter after he was released by the Nationals. But his first scheduled outing was skipped when Friday's game with the A's was postponed due to poor field conditions at Coliseum.

Manager Lloyd McClendon chose to keep his other starters on schedule and moved Young into a long relief role for now. With two off-days coming up during this week's opening homestand at Safeco Field, a fifth starter most likely will not be needed until April 15 at Texas.

By that time, it is possible that Taijuan Walker will be ready to come back from a Minor League injury rehab stint. So Young's opportunity to show how far he has come since his surgery last year to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome could rest largely on his relief outings.

The big right-hander says his shoulder finally feels healthy for the first time in five years, but getting a chance to prove that has been elusive. His most recent Major League game before Sunday was in 2012. In Sunday's 6-3 loss to the A's, he replaced Erasmo Ramirez in the fifth inning with no outs and two on.

Young allowed one of Ramirez's runs to score on a sacrifice fly, but he retired all six batters he faced.

McClendon said he took Young out after two innings so he would still be available in relief if needed Tuesday when the Mariners open their home season against the Angels. Young will take whatever he can get.

"I felt strong," he said. "Those two innings went by pretty quickly, but I'll be ready to go Tuesday and give the club whatever they need.

"The game is still the same. You have to make quality pitches. There are no excuses. Once you get the ball, you've got to get the job done. So that's been my mentality, take the ball and try to get outs."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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