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October 20, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Chris Young named American League comeback player of the year by The Sporting News

Seattle Times file photo

Seattle Times file photo

The remarkable return to success for Chris Young did not go unnoticed by his fellow players.

On Monday, the veteran right-hander was named to the 2014  American League comeback player of the year by The Sporting News. Marlins infielder Casey McGehee was named the NL winner. The award, which is voted upon by 196 players in a survey, has been given out by the publication since 1965, but is not officially recognized by Major League Baseball. That organization has its own comeback player of the year award, which started being given in 2005 and his handed out each year that The MLB Players’ Choice Awards in November.

Young will certainly be a candidate for that as well.

“I am extremely honored to be named Comeback Player of the Year by the Sporting News,” Young said in a statement. “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.”

The 35-year-old right-hander pitched in the big leagues for the first time since 2012 and had a solid season, posting a 12-9 record with a 3.65 ERA (67 ER, 165.0 IP) in 30 games/29 starts with the Mariners. He made a total of nine minor league starts in 2013 and then had season-ending shoulder surgery.  From 2009-2012, Young made just 42 big league starts battling various shoulder injuries as doctors were unable to correct the discomfort.

The Mariners acquired Young, who went to spring training with the Nationals, the day before spring training ended as free agent signing and inserted him into the starting rotation. An afterthought at first, he became one of their best starters.

His 12 wins tied his career-high set in 2005 with the Texas Rangers, and recorded the 3rd-most innings (165.0) of his 10-season Major League career. The span of 8 years between 12+ win seasons is tied for the 3rd-longest in MLB history behind Danny Darwin (12 years, 1980-93), Lindy McDaniel (9 years, 1963-73) and Ron Kline (9 years, 1958-68).

“Chris was a big part of our success in 2014, really solidifying our rotation,” manager Lloyd McClendon said in a statement. “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.”

Said pitching coach Rick Waits: “This is a tremendous and well-deserving honor for Chris. He worked tirelessly and stuck to his routine to keep himself healthy and on the mound throughout the season. He had a breakthrough year making a comeback, but it wasn’t really that surprising to me. This is a testament to his resolve, patience, determination, hard work, his routine and his tireless study of opposing hitters.”

As for his future, Young was diplomatic.

“I feel like I put myself in a good situation, but I’m not worried about that right now,” Young said. “That will play out in time. Right now, we’re not allowed to speak to other teams. I’m technically still under contract with the Mariners. I’ve had good conversations with Lloyd and Jack. I understand this is a business. I would love to be back. This was [the] most fulfilling, gratifying season of my career. I’d love to be part of finishing what we’ve started here. That being said, I understand it’s a business and they’ve got a lot of great arms and it might not be in the best interest of the Mariners or vice versa.”

Young is the fifth player in Mariners history to win the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award, joining Willie Horton (1979), Richie Zisk (1981), Gorman Thomas (1985) and Gil Meche (2003). Miami’s Casey McGehee was the NL Comeback Player of the Year. Here are the voting results:

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