VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the signing of right-hander Chris Young to a Minor League contract on Thursday was made with the intent of adding pitching depth.
Young made 20 starts for the Mets last season, going 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 115 innings. He was coming off serious right shoulder issues that had limited him to a combined eight games over the previous two seasons.
However, the 33-year-old Young had success against the Nationals last year, posting a 3.00 ERA in three starts against Washington. Young is best known for his years with the Padres. His best season was in 2006, when he went 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA. In nine big league seasons, Young is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA.
"He is a veteran Major League starting pitcher," Rizzo said. "He has had success not only in this league, but in our division, specifically. He gives us the depth that we were looking for coming into Spring Training. It's part of our plan to be as deep as we can.
"We have a good, young pitching staff, but it's hard to count on five starters throughout the whole season. We are taking precautions in case something was to happen. We have a legitimate, quality Major League pitcher in the fold."
Young said he wanted to play for a winning organization.
"I played against these guys for a while and they're extremely talented. That factored in the decision greatly," Young said. "All things considered, I felt it was a place I wanted to be."
This will be Young's second tour of duty with the Nationals' organization. He spent one season in the Expos' Minor League system before being traded to the Rangers for right-hander Justin Echols and catcher Einar Diaz. Rizzo hinted that Young has an out clause in his contract.
"I'll cross that bridge when I get there," Young said. "Right now, for me, it's just about pitching no matter where I am. I got to pitch and I got to pitch well. That's my focus right now. And all that other stuff, it's stuff I can't control and stuff I won't worry about. I'm just going to go out, pitch the best I can wherever that is and make the most of it."
After the 2010 season, the Nationals had interest in re-acquiring Young, but they passed because they didn't like the results of an MRI exam on his throwing shoulder. Young will likely get a chance to pitch for the Nationals once left-handers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez go to the World Baseball Classic.
"He is on a throwing program," Rizzo said about Young. "We are going to see him today, and we'll [gauge] exactly where he is at."
Young indicated that he is close to being game ready.
"I'm as close to that as I can possibly be," Young said. "That last couple of years, it was sort of a rehab program. This year, it was a normal throwing program. Arm strength is built up by throwing multiple bullpens. It feels good."
Gio says recent tests have come back clean
VIERA -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez revealed to the local media Friday that he took blood and urine tests two days after the Miami New Times linked him to Anthony Bosch, who reportedly supplied PEDs to professional athletes. Gonzalez says he received word from the Major League Baseball Players Association that the results from those tests were negatives.
"Like I said before, I've never taken performance enhancing drugs and I never will," Gonzalez said. "Two days after the story broke, I was tested for blood and urine. Both came out negative like I expected. Throughout my entire career, it has been like that. I look forward to handling this with MLB and putting this behind me, and I'm looking forward to the season."
On Tuesday, according to sources in a report by ESPN's Outside the Lines, Gonzalez did not receive banned substances from Bosch or the anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis. Gonzalez reportedly received glutathione, intramuscular shots and amino acids, but none of those substances are on Major League Baseball's banned substances list.
The Miami New Times reported that Gonzalez had a $1,000 order for Aminorip, a muscle-building protein. However, none of the ingredients listed in Aminorip is on MLB's list of prohibited substances. The paper later released a new document that listed Gonzalez's name next to a list of ingredients for "pink cream," a synthetic testosterone.
Last week, Gonzalez acknowledged that his father, Max, was a patient of Bosch's.
Garcia to receive a second opinion on forearm
VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson said that right-hander Christian Garcia still doesn't know what's wrong with his right forearm, and the pitcher will get a second opinion.
Garcia was originally diagnosed with strained ligaments in the forearm. The injury doesn't bother him when he throws his breaking pitches, but it bothers him when he throws the fastball.
"He is day-to-day. We'll see how he feels. [He'll] get treatment and wait on the other opinion," Johnson said.
Doctors remain cautious with Ramos' knee
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson had planned to start catcher Wilson Ramos as a designated hitter on Sunday against the Marlins, but the team doctors were against it.
The doctors want to see Ramos sliding toward the bases before he plays in a game. They want to be cautious with Ramos because he missed most of last season due to a devastating injury to his right knee. Sliding will show how much the knee has built up in strength since Spring Training started.
"He needs to get his at-bats. Missing half a season and no winter ball, I want to get that out of the way as early as possible," Johnson said about Ramos. "It may take a week to 10 days for him. If a guy is running well, squatting well and doing all the things from a baseball standpoint, that's what I grade on. I'm the most critical. I never want to run a guy out there that is an injury risk.
"Willie has been doing all the things because he doesn't want to be on a different schedule. He wants to be out with all the guys. I think it's fine being conservative. We have plenty of catching."
Nats outfielders get to know each other at practice
VIERA, Fla. -- A day before playing the Mets in Port. St. Lucie, Fla., the Nationals were practicing at Space Coast Stadium.
Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper were getting to know one another in the outfield. They were working on throwing to the cutoff man, which involved shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Danny Espinosa.
"Today we worked on cutoff and relays for the first time. It's just all about feel," Span said. "This is everybody's first time playing with me and vice versa."
Manager Davey Johnson said he was impressed with Span's arm strength and routes to the ball.
• Here is the starting lineup for the Nationals on Saturday against the Mets:
1. Denard Span - CF
2. Steve Lombardozzi - 2B
3. Bryce Harper - LF
4. Tyler Moore - RF
5. Chad Tracy - 3B
6. Ian Desmond - SS
7. Chris Marrero - 1B
8. Chris Snyder - C
9. Micah Owings - DH
10. Stephen Strasburg - P
• Second baseman Danny Espinosa is getting the day off Saturday. There is nothing wrong with Espinosa, according to Manager Davey Johnson and he is scheduled to play Sunday against the Marlins.
• Roger Bernadina will work out with the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday morning and then leave for the World Baseball Classic later that day. Bernadina will play for the Netherlands.
• Infielder Carlos Rivero will get a chance to play in the outfield this spring. However, the chances of him making the Major League club out of Spring Training are slim. The only way he makes the squad is if a player like Tyler Moore gets hurt. Rivero is out of Minor League options and there is a good chance he could be taken by a Major League team if he goes through waivers.
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.