PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When Chris Young tore the anterior capsule in his right shoulder last May, all the progress he had made over the previous year vanished.
"I felt like the rug had just been ripped out from under my feet," Young said after reporting to Mets camp Wednesday, two days after inking a Minor League contract. "It was a shock to me to start back at square one. Having tasted success and being part of a team environment and all the fun stuff that comes along with it, there was no doubt that I wanted to do it. And I believe that I can."
Now 10 months removed from surgery, Young has been rehabbing in California with former Cubs ace Mark Prior, who is also healthy and looking to hook on with a team. To date, Young has pitched off a mound nine times and hopes to face live hitters soon.
Though the Mets do not expect Young to be ready right away, they consider him a valuable piece of rotation insurance. Making four starts last April prior to his surgery, Young led the Mets with a 1.87 ERA.
"If he comes back in the shape he was last year, in the form he was last year, he's a very, very good Major League pitcher," manager Terry Collins said. "You always enter the season hoping that your five starters go out there 30 times. But the realism is they don't do that, so it's good to have somebody."
If Young does return at any point this season, his recovery will be shorter than that of Johan Santana, who is nearly 19 months removed from a similar operation. Regardless, Young stressed the differences between each individual situation.
"I don't think it's a fair comparison," Young said. "Really, I don't think you can compare any two people who have had a shoulder surgery."