Team Says Young May Be Back This Year

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 23, 2008

CHICAGO, Aug. 22 -- Just after the all-star break, when the Washington Nationals placed Dmitri Young on the disabled list, the team offered no indication about when their first baseman might return. The team's silence in the following weeks hinted that he might not. But Friday, for the first time since Young left the team to fight his diabetes, the Nationals expressed hope that Young can return before the end of the season.

Young, medically cleared to resume baseball activities, is scheduled to report today to Melbourne, Fla., to get back into playing shape. It's the second stage of a two-part program in which Young was asked to regain a handle on, first, his disease, and next, his fitness.

"His diabetes is under control," General Manager Jim Bowden wrote in an e-mailed statement. "We are hopeful that he will be able to contribute to the Nationals' major league team in September."

During Washington's first series of the second half, Young complained repeatedly of lightheadedness, a complication stemming from a high blood-sugar level. The team sent Young back to Washington for treatment with a specialist, but hoped he could soon travel down to Florida to regain his fitness. But Young needed more time than expected.

Young, who hasn't appeared for the Nationals since July 11, is batting .280 this season in 150 at-bats.

Elbow Still Hampering Kearns

Surgery at the end of May repaired bone fragments in Austin Kearns's right elbow, but it has also left the Nationals' right fielder battling chronic stiffness, Manager Manny Acta said. Given a full rest between night games, Kearns's elbow can recover just enough.

Since returning from the disabled list on July 3, Kearns has flashed improved bat speed but little power. Only Friday, though, did Acta indicate that minor elbow problems might be partly responsible.

Asked if he thought Kearns's elbow was holding him back at the plate, Acta said: "I do. He's not going to say anything, and he's a very proud man and doesn't want to give into any excuses and all that, but still -- it's not 100 percent."

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