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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Young to DL To Control Diabetes, Regain Form

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By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 21, 2008

ATLANTA, July 20 -- The Washington Nationals sent first baseman Dmitri Young to the disabled list not just so he could regain control of his diabetes, but also so he could regain control of his fitness. General Manager Jim Bowden said Sunday that once Young is able to stabilize his blood-sugar level -- the reason he missed the first two games of the series against Atlanta -- he will be sent to the team's training complex in Viera, Fla.

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"We have to get him into first-class physical shape, the same shape he was in last year when he was comeback player of the year," Bowden said.

This season, Young, despite 150 at-bats and a .280 average, has just 10 RBI and four home runs. He reported to spring training overweight, and has one previous stint (because of a lower back sprain) on the disabled list. Even before his blood-sugar level provoked spells of lightheadedness this weekend, Young had been battling minor back problems. Bowden, who said that the diabetes and Young's fitness level are likely related, added that Young will follow the fitness program in Florida for as long as necessary.

"When we bring him back and reinstate him, the diabetes will hopefully be under control and his physical shape will be as it was last year and he'll be swinging the bat and mashing like last year," Bowden said.

Ultimately, the First Choice

At 36, for the first time in his career, Paul Lo Duca has become an everyday starting first baseman. All it took was the emergence of Jesús Flores at catcher, the wrist injury to starting first baseman Nick Johnson, the various maladies of backup first baseman Young, and the left calf strain of another first base option, Aaron Boone. As a result, Manager Manny Acta said Sunday that Lo Duca, at least for the short-term, "will get most of the at-bats at first base."

"He had a couple of rough games where he first started over there, but he can handle it over there," Acta said. "He works hard, and he has played better over there. We all know he's not a first baseman by nature, so I'm not going to be asking him to be a Gold Glover over there."

Against Atlanta in the series finale, Lo Duca made four of the team's first 16 outs -- "I was speeding the game up," he chuckled -- but managed a single in the sixth.


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