Mets pitcher Chris Young yawns as he spins his glove...

Mets pitcher Chris Young yawns as he spins his glove on his finger during workouts in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2011) Credit: AP

Chris Young's 13-month journey from shoulder surgery back to a major-league mound ends Tuesday night in Washington when he takes the ball for the Mets in an effort to become a solid fifth starter. If he needed any encouragement, it came from teammate Johan Santana's successful comeback from shoulder surgery that culminated in a no-hitter Friday.

Young said he and Santana talked intermittently during the past year when both were rehabbing.

"To see him go out and have the results and the success, it's been inspirational," Young said. "I'm so happy for him. I was watching the other night with my wife, and we were with every pitch on our toes just cheering for him. It was incredible. I wish I'd been here in person."

As a prelude to his return to the majors, the 6-10 righthander made three starts for Class A St. Lucie, where he had a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings, and another start for Triple-A Buffalo, giving up two hits in six scoreless innings Thursday. Mets manager Terry Collins said Young will be on a count of 80 to 90 pitches.

What does Young, 33, expect from himself? "Obviously, my arm is not like it was when I was 25, and I can't expect it to be," he said. "But I know how to pitch. I'm going to be prepared and confident going out on the mound. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that I could get major-league hitters out. That's the expectation and the goal."

Another source of confidence for Young was the work of Dr. David Altchek, the surgeon who repaired his shoulder and told him he'd be back in a year.

Admittedly, Young worried whether he could resume his career. "There are just days where it's cranky, where it doesn't feel good," he said of his pitching arm. "You feel like you haven't made progress and you start to worry and get down. All of a sudden, you look up and you're doing things you couldn't do 10 days ago. My goal was to take it one day at a time, and I'm still trying to do that."

All those days in rehab added up to this day in Washington.

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