Chris Young of the Mariners Monday was named the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News after the 35-year-old right hander went 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA. The 6-foot-10 veteran did not pitch in 2013 after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder, and made only 42 starts from 2009-12 after battling a variety of shoulder issues.
Signed by the Mariners following his release by the Washington Nationals at the end of spring training, Young made 29 starts for the Mariners and worked 165 innings, his most since 2007.
“I am extremely honored to be named Comeback Player of the Year by the Sporting News,” said Young in a press release. “There are many deserving players who have demonstrated the commitment, dedication and perseverance to overcome similar obstacles and I am humbled to be recognized amongst them.
“The life lessons I have learned throughout this experience are invaluable and will stay with me the rest of my career. Furthermore, I hope that I can serve as inspiration to other players in the same manner in which I was inspired to pursue my comeback. I am extremely grateful to my teammates, coaches, the Seattle Mariners organization and my family, as each and every member contributed to my success.”
Young’s 12 victories tied his career-high set in 2005 with the Texas Rangers. He recorded the third-most innings (165.0) of his 10-season career. The span of eight years between 12+ win seasons is tied for the third-longest in history behind Danny Darwin (12 years, 1980-93), Lindy McDaniel (nine years, 1963-73) and Ron Kline (nine years, 1958-68).
“Chris was a big part of our success in 2014, really solidifying our rotation,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “To think he won as many games as he did, and made 29 starts, coming off the type of surgery and the injuries that he had, I think it’s just tremendous. He is a tireless worker and showed his determination with his performance. This is a very deserving award for him in every way possible.”
Young received 49 votes, far outpacing J.D. Martinez of Detroit (22), Scott Kazmir of Oakland (14), Derek Jeter of the Yankees (11) and Melky Cabrera of Toronto (6).
Casey McGehee of the Miami Marlins won the National League Comeback Player of the Year award.
Young is the fifth player in Mariners history to win the comeback player award, joining Willie Horton (1979), Richie Zisk (1981), Gorman Thomas (1985) and Gil Meche (2003).
The Mariners RBI Club Monday conferred its top community service award on outfielder Michael Saunders. The Moose Clausen Award is given to a member of the Mariners organization (active or retired) for significant contributions to the community. This year’s award is being presented to Saunders in recognition of his community service to the Seattle area.
Saunders is involved with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Major League Baseball’s “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative. Saunders also spends time during the offseason on the Mariners Caravan talking with elementary school students about education and staying drug-free and visiting children at Boys & Girls Clubs.
This year, Saunders joined Felix Hernandez and manager Lloyd McClendon as spokesmen for the Refuse To Abuse® anti-domestic violence public service campaign.