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Dmitri's Summer Away From Baseball

Right now at Land Shark Stadium, as the Nats take batting practice, a former all-star is warming up along the third base line. He's wearing baggy blue jeans and a gray T-shirt. He's practicing a full wind-up -- a rocking rear-back-and-fire delivery... only he's not firing. He's throwing to a 12-year-old named Owen, his oldest son. The former all-star is Dmitri Young. Sometimes, it's easy to forget what he once meant to this franchise. Or that he's still on the Nats' 40-man roster, in the final month of a contract that's paying him $5 million this year.

This is the second day in a row DY has been hanging around the team. Assuredly, the Nats will soon be -- officially -- his ex-team. A formal retirement might not be far away, though Dmitri stopped short of saying it would happen.

"Right now I'm not even thinking about it," he said of playing next year. "I'm just here. Right now, just [recover] and clear my head of everything. Then in the offseason we'll see."

When I first started talking to Dmitri on Friday, he was jovial and relaxed. He spoke about his summer away from baseball, some QT with the family (he's reconciled with his wife), and -- get ready for this -- bike-riding. In the South Florida heat.

"Oh yeah?" I asked. "Is that something new?"

"No, I used to do it back in the old days," Dmitri said. "Back when this guy..." -- and at this moment, Dmitri pointed across the clubhouse to Stephen Strasburg...

His voice trailed off.

"Finish the sentence," I said.

"Back when this guy was pre-puberty," Dmitri said laughing.

Fact is, Dmitri has been doing a lot of things that he hasn't tried in a long time.

"It's just a summer off," he said. "I haven't had one of these since 1990. Every year -- I've played professional ball since '91 -- every summer has been baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball. And for the normal fan, it's like, 'Why would you want time off? You're playing a game.' But that's all I do. I don't get to travel with the family and take vacations. None of us get to do that during the season. We go on vacations during the winter, and there aren't too many hot places.

"It's been real cool," he continued. "I just came back from Toronto. I went to watch my brother [Delwyn] play. I did it like a fan would. Instead of calling the clubhouse guy -- 'Come pick me up!' -- and do all that stuff like a baseball player, I was like, You know, I'm gonna do it like a true fan would. Took a cab over there. Went to the ticket counter. Walked in, walked around the stadium. Sat down. And watched a major league ballgame."

Dmitri said he'd continue to work on his fitness and conditioning, but more to get in shape for life -- "whether I play baseball or not."

I asked him if he'd feel any regret about the end of his career if he never played again.

"No," he said. "Because I don't believe in dwelling on anything and having any regrets. That would lead to a sour rest of my life."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 12, 2009; 4:58 PM ET
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What were the two year stats for Young that cost the team 10 mil? I'm tired of reading about him. He's done nothing for the team since getting his money.

Posted by: raymitten | September 12, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm really happy for the guy, and I'm glad to see him happy and healthy, but c'mon, how can he say that stuff without a little shame?

It's like he's been calling in sick all summer, making his co-workers tow the line for him, then he shows up at the company potluck all suntanned bragging about his trips to Europe and the Caribbean. Sheesh.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 12, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse


here is the ledger of the loaf...

G - 187
AB - 610
R - 72
H- 189
2B - 44
3B - 1
HR - 17
RBI - 84
SB - 0
BB - 72
Ks - 102
BA - .310

da meat loaf is the only player with a career .300 average for the nats since the team moved from montreal. still not worth $10 million, even with the helmet coming off as he lurched into second on a double.

Posted by: surly_w | September 12, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Except for the batting average (.292 career/.310 WAS) Young's Nats career is remarkably consistent with this lifetime seasonal averages...

AB - 565
R - 77
H - 165
2B - 35
3B - 3 (!)
HR - 20
RBI - 81
SB - 3 (!!)
BB - 48
Ks - 103


Posted by: leetee1955 | September 12, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Ted_Striker | September 12, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: leetee1955 | September 12, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Dmitri's brother is Delmon, not Delwyn. Do some fact checking sometime, Chico. You don't have copy editors backing you up any more.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 12, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I thought that stealing 10 million was a felony. Why do you think we want to hear about his fat ass?

Posted by: Brue | September 12, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I'm glad to hear about him, and I hope he does well. Why live such a sour life?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 12, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what the Nats would have done in '07 with D'Meat. Nobody can seriously deny that the guy could hit. He always could. Sure, he was joke in the field, but it's not his fault the Nats gave him a big contract.

Folks here were not nearly as hard on NJ for getting hurt or sick.

I wish him the best.

Posted by: nats24 | September 13, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

make that "done withOUT D'Meat.'' Sorry

Posted by: nats24 | September 13, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Delwyn Young plays for the Pirates,I believe.

Posted by: seanmg | September 13, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Young is/was a professional athlete. I don't blame him for getting the contract; I DO blame him for allowing himself to get so far out of shape (are we allowed to say "fat" in this era?) that when he hit that Triple-which-became-a-home-run in what might have been his last at-bat it registered on the earthquake monitors at the Smithsonian.

That said, how could the training staff and coaches allow him to let himself go to the point that his diabetes nearly killed him?

Posted by: rgalen | September 13, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Good read! I liked how he got a 2nd chance in Washington. I wish the last 2 years he could have contributed more.

I could see him coming back as a DH in the American League. The man could hit.

Posted by: dmacman88 | September 13, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

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