- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

Young’s time running out?

LAKELAND, Fla. — Dmitri Young finally started swinging a bat Friday at the Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, but even as the first baseman takes steps toward getting back on the field, his chances to make Washington’s roster could be running out.

Young, who has missed most of the spring with a hand injury and lower back stiffness, was a long shot to begin the season in the majors when Washington removed him from its 40-man roster and signed Adam Dunn in the offseason. His only chance was to stay healthy throughout the spring; instead, Young has been bogged down by injuries, just as he was last season.

He can’t play in the field, and manager Manny Acta said the Nationals won’t put him there until he is completely healthy.

When asked if Young had missed too much time to make the team, Acta said, “Almost, yeah. He has to have a lot of at-bats and be on the field. Unless he’s ready to go on the field and play in the game, we wouldn’t know.”

Acta said Young’s diabetes, which caused him to miss the entire second half of last season, is not part of the issue this time around.

TIGERS 5, NATIONALS 2

Another rough afternoon from Collin Balester put the Nationals behind the Tigers 5-0 by the fourth inning, and Washington never got its offense going enough to make up the deficit.

The Nationals scored a pair of runs in the seventh on a double by Wily Mo Pena and a single from Jose Castillo. But they managed just four other hits.

Pena went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Balester allowed five runs on nine hits in four innings, including a long Gary Sheffield home run in the first.

— Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Collin Balester [DOWN]

Or maybe he’s up — as in heading north to Syracuse after another rough outing

Dmitri Young [DOWN]

With two weeks left in spring, only hope to make the team is a quick recovery

Wily Mo Pena [UP]

Probably too little, too late, but he went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI as DH

BY THE NUMBERS

7.80 ERA by Collin Balester this spring after his five-run, four-inning performance Friday.

SATURDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Mostly sunny, 52 degrees

Viera: Afternoon showers, 72 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Saturday: vs. Cardinals in Viera, 1 p.m.

Sunday: vs. Astros in Kissimmee, 1 p.m.

Monday: vs. Cardinals in Jupiter, 1 p.m.

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