Chris Young was a bright-eyed rookie with the Rangers back on Sept. 4, 2004, taking the hill at Fenway Park for his first career road start.
Young will return to the historic confines on Saturday, nearly 10 years later, to face the Red Sox as a member of the Mariners.
He does it this time as a grizzled 35-year-old veteran, who's making a strong case for the American League Comeback Player of the Year. The right-hander's posted a 12-6 record with a 3.07 ERA in 24 starts after not pitching in the Majors in 2013 due to ongoing shoulder issues.
In his last start against the Tigers, Young tossed six scoreless innings of four-hit ball for the win, helping solidify one of baseball's best rotations. He's gone 7-2 with a 2.45 ERA over his last 12 starts.
Young says his success, along with the team's, is because of manager Lloyd McClendon's message to enjoy the journey and continue playing relaxed and together. The Mariners are 13-5 over their last 18 games, going from three games over .500 to 11 games over for a 69-58 record.
"Lloyd has said it all along," Young said. "'Trust your talents. Come out and play the game the right way because you're a good team.' I think we're starting to believe in that."
Red Sox manager John Farrell knows what his team is up against in the three-game series.
"The three pitchers we are facing in this series are probably the top three trio of pitchers in the league," Farrell said. "We have our hands full as far as attacking their pitching."
Boston right-hander Brandon Workman will try to neutralize Young and the Mariners lineup after a tough-luck loss to the Angels on Monday.
The right-hander had his best performance in weeks, giving up two runs on six hits over seven innings. He also struck out five and walked two in a 4-2 loss.
Workman had more life on his pitches after the Red Sox chose to skip him the last time through the rotation due to fatigue.
"I felt a lot better," said Workman, who had given up four runs or more in his previous five starts. "I was throwing the ball where I wanted to, for the most part. I was throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead of hitters, so I felt good."
Mariners: Saunders rehab slowed by illness
• Right fielder Michael Saunders has been sidelined midway through his Minor League rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma due to flu-like symptoms that have already caused him to miss two games, McClendon said Friday.
Saunders is expected to miss several more games before rejoining the Rainiers. He's played 10 games with Tacoma as he works back from a strained right oblique that landed him on the disabled list on July 11, but that return already was interrupted once by maternity leave when he flew home to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.
Saunders has hit .257 with 14 walks in his 10 games so far and even before he got sick, McClendon said the six-year veteran needed to get sharper at the plate before he'd be recalled. Now he'll likely need even more time, with his 20-day stint due to run out on Aug. 26.
The Rainiers season runs through Sept. 1, and it's possible the Mariners could recall him at the end of his 20 days and then ask for an extension that would allow him to continue the Minor League rehab until he's ready.
Red Sox: Castillo signing imminent
• The Red Sox are close to finalizing a record-breaking contract with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. A seven-year, $72.5 million deal is reportedly in place.
The Red Sox have not confirmed the signing and won't do so until Castillo completes a physical, which is expected to take place in Boston on Saturday.
"I'm aware of the reports," Farrell said before Friday's game. "There are still some administrative things that he would have to go through before anything is announced officially. Until that time, I'm kind of like everybody else. I've read the reports."
Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million contract with the Chicago White Sox is currently the largest deal signed by an amateur player, from Cuba or any other country.
• During their six-game skid, the Red Sox are 3-for-47 (.063) with runners in scoring position. They have left 50 men on base in that time.
• David Ortiz has reached base four times in four straight games, a career-long streak. He's 16-for-28 on the Red Sox homestand with three doubles, four home runs and 9 RBIs.
• Kendrys Morales has three home runs in his last eight games. He hit just one home run in his first 55 games this season.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.