Young Returns, As Challenges Await Him

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NEW YORK, Sept. 9 -- When Dmitri Young returned to the Washington Nationals' roster on Tuesday, the challenges did not end. They simply changed.

Young missed 48 games while struggling with complications from diabetes and then fighting to regain a semblance of playing shape. The Nationals are confident that Young has handled the first of those challenges. The second requires more work.

While on rehab assignment with Class A Vermont last week, the 34-year-old first baseman injured his left quad while trying to beat out a hit. "For some strange reason," Young quipped, "I was actually running."

That injury, coupled with Young's already wanting fitness level, will limit his playing time and dictate his goals for the season's final weeks. If Young can get a few at-bats, the Nationals will be happy. If he can set a baseline level of fitness that can jump-start him for 2009, the team will be even happier.

"He's spent so much time trying to control his disease that the fitness part of it wasn't the number one priority there," Manager Manny Acta said. "Now he's going to start on that, basically, and as I mentioned before, I think the offseason is going to be a very important time for him."

Back in the Washington clubhouse before Tuesday's game against New York, Young was stoic and brief when talking about his time away from the team. During the first series after the all-star break, Young complained of lightheadedness and blurred vision. That put the brakes on a season in which he was batting .280 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 150 at-bats. He headed to the disabled list, and spent the next weeks in Washington trying to learn more about his disease.

"You definitely have to be serious about it, do exactly what the doctors say, or else things can happen," Young said. "You know, because if you didn't control it, it starts controlling you."

Acta offered no commitments about Young's playing time.

"The plan is just to get at-bats and contribute whenever possible," Young said. "The guys have done a great job since I've been gone, and there's no need for me to come and disrupt that."

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