Notes: Young's season may be over
Stiff neck continues to bother Nationals first baseman
WASHINGTON -- Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young said he has his doubts about playing again this season, which would cost him a chance to win the National League batting title.
Young has missed the last seven games after a ground ball off Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira's bat hit Young on the right side of the head last Saturday. Young suffered headaches and a stiff neck as a result. The headaches are gone, but he is still bothered by the stiff neck.
"There's some doubt," Young said about returning to the lineup. "At the same time, it gives Robert Fick a chance to play. He has been caddying for me all year. When someone gets hurt, another guy gets in there to play."
Young is hitting .323 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs. His batting average is 18 points behind the NL leader, Braves third baseman Chipper Jones. If Young played the last seven games, it's unlikely that he would catch Jones.
"I gave it a good run. Better luck next year," Young said.
Although the batting title is out of reach, Young would like to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Young rebounded from a disastrous 2006 season in which he was placed on one-year probation for domestic violence as well as being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Today, he is a leader in the Nationals' clubhouse.
"I have given [the Comeback Player of the Year Award] some thought," Young said. "I would have a plaque in the house. It would represent everything I went through and the way I turned everything around."
As for next year, Young said he plans to get into better shape in order to play the outfield. It's the first time Young publicly acknowledged that he would make a position switch next year. The team is expecting Nick Johnson to recover from his leg and hip injuries and return as the regular first baseman in 2008.
Most of Young's defensive experience has come in the outfield. He has played 403 games in left field and 103 in right field.
"I have to get in better shape, keep the diabetes under control, spend time with my kids and get ready to play the outfield," Young said. "I played six years out there, so it's not like I forgot how to walk."
Injury report: Outfielder Wily Mo Pena was not in the lineup on Saturday because his right hand was swollen after being hit by a pitch on Friday. Pena said his hand is getting better, but he doesn't know when he will be back in the lineup.
Pena showed frustration following Friday night's game after being hit by a pitch three times in two games. But manager Manny Acta didn't think that Phillies were trying to hit Pena. The skipper pointed out that they were trying to bust him inside.
"They were trying to pitch him inside, and I think he knows that, too," Acta said. "They were just trying to come in on him. It wasn't like they were throwing behind him."
On the mound: On Saturday night, right-hander Tim Redding had has best outing since Aug. 20, when he pitched seven shutout innings against the Astros. Facing the Phillies, Redding pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up one run, which was scored in the first inning when Chase Utley his 21st home run of the season. Redding struck out seven, including Ryan Howard three times.
"The pitch to Chase was a well placed pitch," Redding said. "It definitely was not over the middle of the plate. It was on the inside part of the plate. The guy is one of the best hitters in the league right now. But I was pleased with the game plan that [pitching coach] Randy St. Claire and [catcher] Brian Schneider drew up."
Stat of the day: The Nationals are 12-11 on Sundays this season.
Did you know? Entering Saturday's action, Ronnie Belliard had 31 doubles. It marked the seventh time in eight years Belliard has had at least 30 doubles in a season.
Coming up: The Nationals play the finale of a four-game series -- and the final game at RFK Stadium -- against the Phillies on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. ET. Washington right-hander Joel Hanrahan will face Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.