Young looking to build on debut

By most people’s standards, right-hander Chris Young couldn’t have had a better debut with the New York Mets.

Not only did he allow just just one run over 5 1/3 innings while striking out seven on the mound, Young also became the first Mets pitcher since Tom Glavine on Aug. 11, 2005 to have three hits in New York’s 7-1 victory over the rival Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.

Still, Young himself, wasn’t satisfied.

“The last start was good, but there’s room for improvement,” said Young (1-0, 1.69 earned-run average), who will make his second start on Sunday afternoon against the Washington Nationals. “I walked too many guys [four]. I went 5 1/3 [innings], which isn’t even a quality start. There’s room for improvement there.

“I’m not satisfied with it. We won the game ultimately, and that’s the object, but I feel like there’s things to work on and improve on, and I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Young added: “I’m one start into my season. That’s where I feel like I am. I’ve got start No. 2 tomorrow [Sunday]. And it’s nothing more than that. We’ve got a long way to go.”

While he’s looking forward to making his first start a Citi Field, Young downplayed the notion that he’ll have success at the cavernous ballpark, which seems conducive to counteracting his propensity to surrender fly balls.

“Any park that you can get outs in is a good park,” said Young, who led the league in fly ball percentage (56.4 percent in 2006, 54.5 percent in 2007) his last two full seasons in the majors, according to fangraphs.com. So whether that’s here or Citizens Bank Park or Minute Maid Field, the object is to get outs, and the ballpark doesn’t have much bearing on that.

“I think regardless of the ballpark, I’m gonna have a game plan, and I’m gonna execute that plan regardless of where I’m pitching. If I’m pitching in a Little League field, I gotta be a run better than the other pitcher, and that’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are or what ballpark it is, you gotta find a way to be better than the other team and win the game. The ballpark never alters or changes my game plan.”

Young went 32-20 in 92 starts from 2006-08, but injuries have derailed his career, and he’s only made 39 starts since. That’s why he continues to take it “one day at a time.”

“If you look at the big picture, you get lost in things,” Young said. “If you take it one day at a time, you focus on what you can control and worry about things directly in front of you.

“That’s something I’ve had to learn in my career. When I was young, at times I’d get caught up in this and that. You can’t do it. Especially with injuries. I’ve just learned to take it one day at a time and be thankful for being out there.”

Young will look to better harness his arsenal of pitches when he toes the rubber on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m not getting too excited about one start. I’ve got a long way to go,” Young said. “It’s gonna be a tough game tomorrow. This team’s good. I’m going against a veteran pitcher [Jason Marquis] and I’m gonna have my work cut out for me. But I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m not satisfied with it. It was a great win for the club, but I’m not satisfied. And I’m going to strive for better.”

Of note: Young, the former Princeton basketball star, said he was impressed the Tigers' run to the NCAA Tournament this season, but was upset -- albeit understanding -- that head coach Sydney Johnson left the program to take over the vacancy at Fairfield.

The question is, who will take over for Johnson?

"I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Mitch Henderson," Young said.

Henderson, currently an assistant at Northwestern, graduated Princeton in 1988 with a degree in economics prior to starting his collegiate coaching career.