- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 11, 2008

Washington Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young will begin a rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg on Tuesday, which will be the first time Young has seen game action since going on the disabled list April 8 with a sprained lower back.

General manager Jim Bowden said Young has taken batting practice and fielded ground balls at the team’s extended spring training in Viera, Fla., though he hasn’t played in a game.

“His performance will dictate how quickly he gets back up here,” Bowden said. “He’s doing extremely well.”

Young has continued to receive chiropractic care and massage therapy on his back in Viera after Nationals massage therapist Tatiana Tchamouroff worked on his hip flexor May 1, enabling him to swing a bat for the first time in weeks.

His return could coincide with the start of the Nationals’ interleague schedule, allowing him to get some at-bats as a designated hitter. Beyond that, Bowden said, the team could use his presence off the bench.

“He can certainly give Nick [Johnson] a rest, play against certain left-handed pitchers,” Bowden said. “There’s a lot of things he brings to the table.”

GM pleased with Chico

Bowden considered Matt Chico’s appearance out of the bullpen Friday the best the left-hander had thrown all year. It gave him hope that Chico, who was removed from the starting rotation earlier this week, can work out his struggles in the major leagues, not the minors.

“I give [manager] Manny [Acta] and [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire] credit. They fought to put him in the bullpen,” Bowden said. “I wanted to option him out, let him fix it down there, and Manny and Randy fought hard to give him a shot out of the bullpen. Certainly, we’ve seen a lot of guys succeed by pitching out of the bullpen.

“So I deferred to them, and I was very pleased with his outing. He can add a lot to our bullpen if he does what he did last night.”

Chico, who was 0-5 with a 6.87 ERA as a starter this season, allowed two hits in two scoreless innings.

He said the change helped him use a simpler approach on the mound, rather than trying too hard to catch corners of the plate.

“The difference for me was just trying to relax, go out there and really throw,” Chico said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to find when I was starting. I’m starting to get on the right track with where I want to go.”

Extra bases

Elijah Dukes struck out in his first three at-bats after hitting .236 in his rehab stint with Class AAA Columbus, but Acta wouldn’t speculate on whether Dukes had enough at-bats to get ready. “That’s not for me to judge,” Acta said. “If he hits, did he have enough, and if he doesn’t hit, then he didn’t have enough? We’ll see. He says he’s fine.” …

Bowden said he is concerned with the number of inherited runners who have scored off reliever Jesus Colome. “Anytime you’re not performing, there’s a concern,” he said. “That’s why we’re glad our farm system is getting built up. We’re getting to the point where we have a lot of choices … We’re starting to have options when we don’t get performance at this level.”

Colome has inherited 10 runners this season and has allowed all 10 to score.

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