Young Goes On DL With Ailing Back

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Late last night, the Washington Nationals made a move that seemed to be in the offing for the better part of a week, placing first baseman Dmitri Young on a the 15-day disabled list with a sprained lower back. The club recalled catcher Johnny Estrada from Class AAA Columbus, where he had been rehabilitating his right elbow, in which he had tendinitis.

Young, who lost out to Nick Johnson for the first base job in spring training, has had just two at-bats this year. He strained his left side in the batting cage in late February, and the condition -- which moved to his back -- limited his time in the spring. He also reported to spring training weighing 298 pounds, which concerned some club officials.

Still, Young -- the National League's Comeback Player of the Year in 2007 -- was active for the start of the season, even as a pinch hitter. But last Thursday in Philadelphia, he told Manager Manny Acta that his back had stiffened and he was unavailable to pinch-hit. He left the team Friday, returning to Washington, where he was examined by team orthopedist Ben Shaffer and injected with an anti-inflammatory in his back.

The move is retroactive to April 3. The return of Estrada, a free agent signed to a $1.25 million contract in the offseason, temporarily gives the Nationals three catchers, joining starter Paul Lo Duca and backup Jesús Flores, both right-handed hitters. Estrada is a switch-hitter.

Hill Pitches for Potomac

Right-hander Shawn Hill threw five innings of scoreless ball last night for Class A Potomac in what could be his final step before his major league debut this season.

In the Potomac Nationals' first home game, Hill allowed four hits, walked one batter and struck out four. He threw 69 pitches, 45 of which were strikes. Nationals officials on-hand said he was consistently 90-, 91-mph with his fastball -- which is his normal velocity when healthy.

Hill, who has battled soreness in his right forearm, said via text message that his arm was "not bad at all, just a little tight getting loose at first." He could start Sunday in the majors.

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