Dmitri Young is back in the game
Dmitri Young, who I'd argue remains one of the five or six most popular players in Nats history, ended his career quietly in D.C., tearing a quad muscle while on a rehab stint with Harrisburg and then retiring without fanfare. He's since resurfaced as a consultant and hitting instructor with the independent Oakland County Cruisers of the Frontier League. The Detroit Free Press caught up with him recently, and in a video interview, Young reflected on his late-career resurgence in Washington, when he at least temporarily overcame his health problems to become an All-Star.
"You don't want your kids to see you not fighting," Young said. "You don't want your kids to look at you as a loser, somebody that quit. One of life's lessons is, in order to play baseball and to enjoy it, everything in your life's gotta be good. The rebirth of Dmitri started in D.C. I fell in love with the game again. And when it was said and done, my career, I look back, and I ended it the way I wanted to end it. I got a base hit hustling."
The Freep's story focused largely on Young's time in Detroit, but they also talked to Lenny Harris, whom Young gave a great deal of credit for his Washington resurgence.
"I began calling him at 5:30 in the morning," Harris said. "He was overweight. He'd lost his power. He told me, 'I need you to make me better.'"
Harris punished Young, forcing him to throw medicine balls, to run, to lift weights, to pound ball after ball after ball. Hundreds of them. Young worked harder than he ever had, said Harris.
"Dmitri had had it too easy. He was a superstar too quickly," Harris said.
But in those early mornings in Florida, after losing just about everything, Young began to understand what his father, now a close friend, had tried to teach him. The son used that revelation to earn a roster spot with the Nationals. He hit .320 and was named comeback player of the year in 2007.
"To this day I still don't know how to repay him," Young said of Harris.
Well, there has to be a Dmitri Young Day at some point, right? One last bobble head with the little extra-base hand waggle toward the dugout? Right?
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