- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For 22 years, Dmitri Young has watched his younger brother, Delmon, grow up and follow in his footsteps to become a major league ballplayer.

But until now, Dmitri has never played with or against Delmon in a game that actually counted, a fact that makes the Nationals’ three-game interleague series against the Minnesota Twins this week a landmark event for the Washington first baseman.

“I don’t get to see him,” said Dmitri Young, who has been too busy with his own career to watch his brother play in person. “This will be like my first time. This will be exciting for me to watch.”

Delmon Young played the last two seasons with Tampa Bay but never crossed paths with his big brother. Traded to Minnesota over the winter, he’s now starting every day in left field and will have the chance starting Tuesday night to face Dmitri Young and the Nationals in a three-game interleague series at the Metrodome.

Because there’s a 12-year difference between them - Dmitri is 34, Delmon is 22 - the two have never played at the same level before. The only time they met as professionals came in a couple of spring training “B” games in Florida three years ago, when Dmitri played for the Tigers and Delmon was a minor leaguer with Tampa Bay.

There are plenty of playing similarities between the two. Dmitri was the fourth draft pick overall by the Cardinals in 1991; Delmon was the No. 1 pick overall by Tampa Bay 12 years later. Both played their first spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla. Both were traded following their first full seasons in the big leagues.

Dmitri does have two All-Star Game appearances on his resume, an accomplishment Delmon has yet to realize. But big brother expects it only will be a matter of time before that (and more) happens.

“You want your little brother to do better than you,” he said. “That’s kind of a selfish act if you don’t want your brother to do better. Everything I’ve done, I want him to eclipse it. I want him to have a nice, long career. I want him to enjoy himself.”

Lo Duca in, Clippard out

The Nationals will activate Paul Lo Duca off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, bringing the veteran catcher back for the start of the series against the Twins.

Lo Duca was just 3-for-16 with two RBI in five rehab games split between Class A Potomac and Class AAA Columbus, but his broken right hand has healed and he’s ready to return. He will hold a diminished role with the Nationals, though, ceding his starting job behind the plate to 23-year-old Jesus Flores.

Manager Manny Acta said Lo Duca is likely to get occasional starts at catcher when Flores needs time off while also seeing some playing time in left field or at first base.

To make room on the roster for Lo Duca, Washington optioned pitcher Tyler Clippard back to Columbus, two days after the right-hander was called up and tossed six strong innings to beat the Seattle Mariners.

Johnson begins rehab

Nick Johnson, out since May 15 with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, had his hard cast removed Monday. The injured first baseman is wearing a splint and has begun a rehabilitation program, the first step toward his return to the lineup.

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