VIERA, Fla. -- Newly acquired right-hander Chris Young threw to live hitters for the first time with the Nationals on Wednesday, saying a game appearance is not far off.
"You get out there, start getting a feel, and then you start seeing what you need to work on and start honing in on things," Young said. "Fastball command is first and foremost."
Young expects to throw another bullpen session on Friday before making his Grapefruit League debut. Manager Davey Johnson said Young would likely pitch on Sunday, piggy-backing off Ross Detwiler's start.
Young, 33, was signed to a Minor League deal after Spring Training began. He went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA with the Mets last season. All 20 of his appearances were starts.
"You build up your strength," Young said. "Nobody is in midseason form right now. It takes time. That's what Spring Training is for, it's why it's so long. It takes time to build up the endurance, the innings in preparation for the season. You bring your pitches along, you get sharper, your mechanics get better and hopefully by the time the season starts, hopefully you're close to where you need to be."
Nats delay Rodriguez's live BP session
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez's scheduled live batting-practice session was pushed back from Thursday, to allow the right-hander to continue to work his way back from surgery before facing hitters.
Manager Davey Johnson had originally said that Rodriguez was going to face Minor Leaguers on Thursday, but the club decided to have Rodriguez throw one more bullpen session to work on his breaking balls.
Rodriguez could stand to fill the last remaining bullpen spot -- likely the only position on the Nationals' roster up for grabs -- if he is healthy by Opening Day.
Rodriguez is out of options, but he is equipped with a live fastball, so the Nationals are keeping a hopeful watch on the right-hander.
"From what I've seen, his flat-ground [throwing] has been outstanding," Johnson said. "He's been throwing long. I think more than anything, it's for him to feel comfortable that the soreness in his elbow that he felt last year is not there. He's always had some winter ball coming in here, so with the surgery and with the pretty long spring, I'm sure when he really feels comfortable, he'll be ready.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's real close."
• Davey Johnson has been impressed with Fernando Abad's two Grapefruit League outings this spring, and the southpaw could be a candidate for the Nats' open bullpen spot.
"I was really impressed with the way he threw the other day," Johnson said. "I've always liked his arm. The way he attacked hitters [Wednesday], he threw a couple good curveballs, that was great. Command was good. [Pitching coach Steve McCatty] wanted him to go another inning and I said, 'No, I want to see that [Friday].'"
Abad is expected to have Thursday off and come back and throw on Friday. The Nats are short on lefties in the bullpen, so he could be a valuable piece. Abad is likely competing with Bill Bray, Will Ohman and Jeremy Accardo for that final roster spot.
• Ohman, signed to a Minor League contract, threw his first live bullpen session on Thursday and is expected to make his first game appearance on Sunday.