March 25th, 2007
It was a sudden move, but Travis Lee’s decision to ask for a release meant that Dmitri Young will start at first base in Washington. Though the article calls Young "adequate" at first base, his 8-for-18 performance entering Sunday made a big difference. Just as important, it sounds like the fire is back for him. From Bill Ladson’s story on MLB.com:
"I didn’t exactly have passion when [I first signed with the Nationals], but being down in the Minor Leagues with those [prospects brought back the passion]," Young said. "They would come up to me every morning and ask me big-league-related questions. They would say, ‘We would love when you take your helmet off when you get a base hit.’ It got the old juices flowing. It made coming to work a lot easier for me, just having something to work for and proving to people that I had the ability to play. It has been pretty much my mission.
"I learned from my mistakes, knowing that I can’t let things bug me. I’m playing for a purpose and getting back to the kind of player people heard about the last 10 years."
That second paragraph is the big one. He didn’t have that kind of drive when his life was falling apart last summer. I haven’t seen him yet since I didn’t make either trip to Viera for the Tigers games against the Nats, but the reports suggest he has that drive now. It’s not going to be an easy year, because the Nationals look like a team that could lose a lot of games. But this should still be good for him, and I’m happy for him. And in a non-leadership way, it should be good for the younger players in Washington to have him around and keep him loose, something Ladson suggests.
The pitching staff has been finalized, manager Jim Leyland said today, though he hasn’t announced it yet. Given Chad Durbin’s performance Saturday and the fact that he’s out of options, he appears to be the favorite. The final bench spot, he said, is down to Neifi Perez, Ramon Santiago or Chris Shelton, and they haven’t decided that one yet. He’s hoping to have it finalized tomorrow. Perez would appear to be the likely option there.
On other matters, Justin Verlander threw six scoreless innings for Triple-A Toledo today with two hits, three walks, eight strikeouts and a hit batter. He said afterwards his changeup felt a lot better, almost a polar opposite of how he felt about it last Tuesday against the Pirates.
Joel Zumaya is away from the team for the next couple days. He appears to have caught the flu bug that is making his way around the clubhouse, which is doubly bad news for media.