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Nats' Young Returns to Scene Of Some of His Best Seasons

Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young wore a Reds uniform from 1998 to 2001, batting over .300 all four seasons with 67 homers and 296 RBI.
Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young wore a Reds uniform from 1998 to 2001, batting over .300 all four seasons with 67 homers and 296 RBI. (By David Kohl -- Associated Press)

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

CINCINNATI, May 21 -- As the Washington Nationals began a four-game series at Great American Ball Park on Monday night, the focus was on Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez, Nationals now who were Reds before a trade last season. Dmitri Young returned rather quietly, but in a way, he had more of an impact here than either of the other former Reds.

"This is where I established myself as a big league ballplayer," Young said. "I have great memories from here."

After the 1997 season, Young was acquired by the Reds, whose general manager at the time was Jim Bowden. In four seasons in Cincinnati, beginning when he was 24, Young hit .304 with 67 homers and 296 RBI.

Young's favorite memory was of the 1999 Reds, which finished the regular season 96-66 but lost a one-game playoff to the New York Mets, failing to officially advance to the postseason.

"That group we had here," Young said, "if we had beaten the Mets, we could have won the World Series."

Kearns, meantime, found himself holding a mini-news conference before batting practice.

"I figured it'd be a few cameras and the beat guys, but not that," he said. "It was nice."

Church Out of Lineup

Left fielder Ryan Church wasn't in the starting lineup for the first time all season, the victim of a bruised left forearm suffered when he was hit by an Erik Bedard pitch Sunday against Baltimore. Though his arm was still swollen and he had a hard time swinging a bat, Church and Manager Manny Acta said they hoped Church would play Tuesday.

Assuming Church comes back soon, the most significant development from the injury is perhaps Church taking another step away from his reputation as a player who doesn't play hurt.

"I'm [ticked] off that I'm not going to be playing," he said. "But I've ran out there with things hurting and didn't really second-guess anything or mention anything to the trainers. I'm starting to grow up a little bit."

Church had played in all 44 of the Nationals' games, hitting .262 with 15 doubles -- just two short of his career high.


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