- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — Manny Acta has been saying all season how lost the Washington Nationals would have been this season without Dmitri Young. The rookie manager got a taste of life without his cleanup hitter over the weekend, and though Young — who entered last night second in the National League in batting with a .340 average — was back in the lineup last night, there remains a strong possibility he will be gone for good by this time next week.

Young, a top candidate to be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline, started for the Nationals last night against the Philadelphia Phillies after missing three straight games with a bruised left heel. Washington managed to win two of three games in Young’s absence, but the offense still managed to score only seven runs in those games.

“It probably would have been better with him, but we still won the ball games,” Acta said. “That’s what counts.”

Whether the Nationals could continue to win games without Young’s services over the long haul remains to be seen. Ronnie Belliard, who signed a two-year contract extension Monday, is the only other position player on the active roster hitting better than .262. Ryan Zimmerman is the only other player with more than 39 RBI.

“Our offense is going to take a big blow,” Acta said. “Everybody knows it’s not a very strong offense. But these guys, they’ve got a lot of heart. And they find a way to win games with or without him. I hate to think of him leaving. But if he does, a day later I’m going to have to come to work and write down a lineup without him and try to figure out a way to win as many games as possible.”

No decision yet

The Nationals plan to announce tonight who will be called up from Class AAA Columbus to start half of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader in New York.

Left-hander Billy Traber, who allowed one earned run in four innings Friday night against the Colorado Rockies, will start one of the games. The other spot likely will be filled by one of two Columbus prospects, right-hander Joel Hanrahan or left-hander John Lannan.

Hanrahan has been Columbus’ most consistent pitcher this season and seemingly has been in line for a promotion for months. Lannan, though, has become the hottest prospect in Washington’s farm system after dominating at three d sifferent levels.

Extra bases

Shawn Hill said his live batting practice session Monday at Class A Potomac went well, and he will now begin a minor league rehab program that could have him back in the Nationals‘ rotation Aug. 9 at San Francisco.

“I’ve thrown off the mound enough now where it’s not bothering me,” said Hill, out since May 12 with a right elbow injury. “So I don’t have to worry about that. But I don’t want to rush it if I’m not pitching well.” …

Jason Simontacchi played catch yesterday but won’t be allowed to throw off a mound until his injured right elbow is completely healed. …

Ross Detwiler, this year’s No. 1 draft pick, threw three shutout innings yesterday in his second start for the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League rookie team. The left-hander hasn’t allowed a run in five total innings.

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