On Tuesday, nearly 13 months removed from shoulder surgery, the 33-year-old will make his first start since May 1, 2011, when the Mets travel to Washington to take on the Nationals in the first tilt of a three-game set.
"I'd say just going in, there was just so much unknown, and there still is," said Young, who tossed six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits in his most recent rehab outing last Thursday at Triple-A Buffalo. "There's been so much hard work, a lot of time, commitment and dedication. If that's what makes it smooth, then you can call it that, but I wouldn't say its been easy, and I don't expect it to continue to be."
Prior to the gem in his lone start at Triple-A, Young went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts at Class A Port St. Lucie. The most encouraging sign that his career may be far from over, however, might have come while he was sitting at home in front of his television.
Young watched teammate Johan Santana -- who underwent the same shoulder surgery as Young eight months earlier -- toss the first no-hitter in franchise history last Friday.
"We've had good conversations along the rehab process, and he's always been encouraging and saying, 'Hey, it's going to happen, you'll get there,'" Young said of Santana. "To see him going out and having the results and the success, it's inspirational."
The Nationals will look to spoil Young's return Tuesday by countering with 26-year-old righty Jordan Zimmermann, who enters the contest with a 3-5 record, despite carrying a 2.80 ERA and turning in quality starts in eight of his 10 outings.
Mets: Bay nearing return
The Mets were hoping to welcome back another important piece Tuesday night, as outfielder Jason Bay was on target to rejoin the team for the series opener in Washington. However, manager Terry Collins said after Monday's loss to the Cardinals that Bay is sick and will not return for the series opener.
Bay, who has been on the disabled list since fracturing a rib on April 23, was 2-for-6 in two rehab games with Class A Port St. Lucie entering Monday night. After serving as the club's designated hitter in each of those two games, Bay was slated to play the field in Monday night's contest against the Tampa Yankees.
Nationals: Harper, Gonzalez monthly winners
Lefty Gio Gonzalez was named the National League's Pitcher of the Month, while outfielder Bryce Harper was named the league's Rookie of the Month for May.
In five May starts, Gonzalez was a perfect 5-0 and tied for the Major League lead in wins. He had a 2.25 ERA in 32 innings with an NL-leading 45 strikeouts. Harper hit .271 (29-for-107) in May and led NL rookies with 21 runs scored and four triples.
The Nationals are 14 games into a stretch in which they will play 32 consecutive contests against clubs from either the NL East (14) or American League East (18). They are 7-7 thus far.
Players currently on the Mets' roster have generally fared well against Zimmermann, hitting a collective .321 (18-for-56) against the right-hander.
Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is just 3-for-22 with seven strikeouts in his career against Young. The .136 average is his second lowest against any pitcher who he's faced 20 or more times (Tim Lincecum, .130).