Johnson Lands On DL; Young Is Called Up

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 16, 2008

NEW YORK, May 15 -- During his eight-year major league career, Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson has found ways to injure his femur, his lower back, his right heel, his thigh, his right cheekbone, his right knee, his right hand, his left thumb ligament and his left wrist.

Johnson's time with the Nationals took another snakebitten turn Wednesday morning when he learned, after an MRI exam on his right wrist, that his latest injury will knock him from the lineup for four to six weeks. Officially, Johnson tore the tendon sheath in his right wrist. That injury occurred two days earlier in an eighth-inning at-bat at Shea Stadium.

Washington will replace Johnson, now on the 15-day disabled list, with a first baseman who's missed every game since April 2 with a lower back sprain. Dmitri Young will end a brief rehab assignment in Class AA Harrisburg and rejoin the Nationals for Friday's game in Baltimore.

"I feel bad for [Johnson] because, as always, we want to see him play a full season," Manager Manny Acta said. "He worked extremely hard to come back to spring training and be in the shape he is. And now this happens."

Acta will have to determine the balance of playing time between Young, who batted .320 in 460 at-bats last year, and Aaron Boone, thriving this year in spot playing time. After hearing reports from Harrisburg that the 298-pound Young was fit, Acta sounded inclined to give Young the first chance at regular playing time. "Well, most of the time Dmitri will be playing first base," Acta said.

Acta Shows Faith in Ayala

For the second consecutive game, Acta used relief pitcher Luis Ayala in a critical situation -- this time in the eighth, as Washington clung to a 1-0 lead. Though Ayala had botched a stretch of outings between May 6 and Tuesday, allowing at least two runs in all four appearances, Acta has stuck with his setup man, and in this series, Ayala has twice pitched out of jams. "I'm never going to give up on him," Acta said.

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