Playing his heart out

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Once Young began his 20-day rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg last week, it looked like a decision would be forthcoming at long last. But then he mildly aggravated his back injury, though not while playing, so the rehab assignment is on hold for at least a few days. Young, who went 0-for-6 with a walk in three games before the setback, hopes to return to Harrisburg’s lineup later this week.

In his mind, though, he believes he could have been playing in the majors months ago. Having shed 40 pounds from a 6-foot-2 frame that once weighed in at 330 and having successfully controlled his diabetes thanks to a strict diet, medicine and exercise regime, he said it has been four years since he has felt this well.

Young also said he was told at the end of spring training that he would remain in Florida “no more than a month,” then start a rehab assignment that would have him back in the big leagues by mid-May.

He has heard little from the Nationals since.

“After 13 years in the big leagues, I thought there’d be a little more communication than that. I thought I did some good for the organization in the time that I was here. If there’s something I did wrong that they didn’t like, let me know.”

Young insists he’s not bitter. Much as he wishes he was wearing a major league uniform - Washington or other - right now, the events of the last year has given him new perspective.

Bonnie Young was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January. She died May 18 at age 53 with her husband, Larry, and four children (Dmitri, Delmon, Detra and DeAnn) at her side.

“Knowing what my mom had to fight through, it made everything I’ve gone through small potatoes,” Dmitri Young said. “I didn’t exactly like what was going on, but I wasn’t fighting for my life.”

For now, Young will continue fighting for his baseball life, hoping there’s one final encore yet in a career filled with equal amounts of dizzying highs and painful lows.

And if not? If neither the Nationals nor anyone else comes calling, then what?

“Just like my mom told me to: I’m going to play my heart out,” Young said. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If not, I had a nice career. I’ll just watch my kids grow up and enjoy them.”

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