OAKLAND -- Chris Young will make his first start for the Mariners today against the A's as the veteran right-hander attempts to continue Seattle's excellent run of starting pitching in the first week of the season.
The A's will counter with right-hander Dan Straily, who'll be seeking his first win against a Mariners team that swept Anaheim before dropping a 3-2 loss in 12 innings in Oakland on Thursday. The A's have played 30 innings in the past two days after a makeup doubleheader with the Indians on Wednesday.
Young, 34, signed a one-year deal with Seattle last week following his release by the Nationals. The 6-foot-10 right-hander hasn't started in the Majors since Sept. 29, 2012, due to shoulder issues he believes are now behind him thanks to surgery in June to deal with a nerve condition called thoracic outlet syndrome.
Young threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings for Seattle in his lone Cactus League appearance with the club on Saturday against the Rockies.
"He tired a little bit at the end, but I was pleased with what I saw," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "He was the guy I remembered. He threw the ball extremely well."
Young was a 2007 All-Star with the Padres, but he hasn't pitched a complete season since because of his shoulder issues. The lanky 34-year-old is eager to test himself now that he's had an offseason and a spring to build up his strength and regain his timing.
The veteran knows this is a limited opportunity to show what he can do as the team's fifth starter, and he'll need to take advantage, even if he didn't get the chance to stretch out too much this spring with the Nationals.
"It really doesn't matter if I'm ready or not. We've got to do it," Young said. "But I am excited to be back out there. It's been a while for me. I just welcome the opportunity and look forward to it."
Straily is 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA in three career starts against Seattle. He was 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA over five stints with Oakland last year and led American League rookies in games started (27), innings pitched (152 1/3) and tied for the lead in wins with the Rangers' Martin Perez.
Straily, spent the bulk of spring working on fastball command (he walked 10 in 13 1/3 innings), and A's skipper Bob Melvin agrees that's the biggest key for him.
"A lot of times it's his slider that's maybe his best pitch, but commanding his fastball and getting ahead in the count is probably key and consistent with any starting pitcher," Melvin said. "That's the case with him. If he gets strike one, now he gets more unpredictable, and he's moving around inside and outside, the plate gets a lot larger for him. That's what we're looking for from him."
Athletics: Melvin backs his new closer
After throwing 29 pitches in Wednesday's loss, his second in as many appearances for the A's, Jim Johnson was unavailable for Thursday's game. Melvin said he would have no problem putting the right-hander back in a save situation today.
"Look," said Melvin, "he's an accountable guy, and everything gets real magnified when you're in the closer's role, because when you have a bad day the team loses. He's with a new team, and it's happened the first couple times he's been out there. He's looking forward to getting out there and going in the opposite direction. It's just unfortunate he's gotten off to a slow start."
Johnson, struggling with command of his go-to sinker, has allowed five runs in a combined one inning. But the former Orioles All-Star is confident he can make the right adjustments to get back on track.
"Obviously this isn't the way I wanted to start, but guys here are right here with me already, and they know I work at it," Johnson said. "I learned a long time ago you can't get too high, you can't get too low, so I'll be fine. I told Bob, I'm frustrated because I care and I want to do well and I feel like I gave everything out there, and then you don't get your results. But I'm not discouraged. There's a difference."
Mariners: McClendon rotates right fielders
While Dustin Ackley has started every game in left field and Abraham Almonte remains a fixture in center, McClendon started three different right fielders in Seattle's first four games.
Michael Saunders played right field on Opening Day, rookie Stefen Romero started the second and third games in Anaheim -- with Saunders coming in for late-inning defensive relief -- and Logan Morrison opened there Thursday.
It was Morrison's first Major League start in right field, though he played 240 games in left while with the Marlins, as well as 101 at first base. Morrison came up through the Minors as a first baseman, but said right field isn't that much different than left.
He took one circular path to get under a high fly by Sam Fuld in the third inning on Thursday, only to have center fielder Almonte call him off and make the catch in straightaway right field. But McClendon said Morrison did OK in outfield work this spring and he was ready to see how things went in game action.
"We'll find out. He's out there," McClendon said prior to Thursday's game. "He was a lot better than advertised [in the spring]. He's not going to win a Gold Glove, but he wasn't as bad as the reports."
• Mariners right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor made his first rehab appearance with Double-A Jackson on Thursday and gave up three runs on a walk and two hits, including a home run, while working two-thirds of an inning with one strikeout. Pryor was pitching in a game for the first time since having surgery to repair the lat muscle behind his right shoulder in August.
• McClendon became the second Mariners manager to start his career with three straight wins. Rene Lachemann won four in a row to open the 1981 campaign. McClendon is the first to go 3-0 on the road.
• A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has hit 10 of his 49 career home runs against the Mariners.