Lindsay Berra

Young looks to get slimmer 'meat hooks' into coaching

13-year big leaguer seeking job in player development at Winter Meetings

Young looks to get slimmer 'meat hooks' into coaching

SAN DIEGO -- A tall, lanky man leans against a pillar in the lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel. Another man hurries by, makes eye contact, and literally stops in his tracks.

"I didn't even recognize you, man!" he said. "Where's the rest of you?"

"I think it's still in Cincinnati," said Dmitri Young.

Young, who was the fourth overall pick in the 1991 Draft, hit over .300 in each of his four seasons with the Reds, from 1998-2001. He finished his 13-year big league career with the Nationals in 2008. He weighed the same when he finished as when he started -- around 300 pounds -- and topped off at 320. But in September, after more than 3 1/2 years of dieting, the 6-foot-2 Young reached his goal weight of 210.

"My mom always said, 'Don't waste food.' And I never did. I ate like there was no tomorrow," Young said. "Now, I still eat the same foods, but I eat about a third of what I used to eat."

Young also walks and exercises regularly to keep the weight off.

Young, who made a comeback attempt in Venezuela in 2011, says if he'd played at this weight, he'd still be playing now, at 41 years old. Instead, Young has been focusing his efforts on the Dmitri D. Young Foundation, which offers camps to youth baseball players who cannot afford them, and the Da Meathook Switch Hitting University, which offers classes in all aspects of hitting to youth players in Southern California.

This summer, Young coached at MLB and USA Baseball's annual Breakthrough Series, which led to an invitation to "Scout School." Formally known as the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau's Scouting Development Program, the 12-day course takes place in Phoenix each fall and is designed to teach the basics of baseball scouting.

"It was a life-altering experience," Young said. "I was humbled to learn how much the scouts know that I didn't know. As a player, I know how to hit the ball and catch the ball and play the game, but the scouts know how to find the right player to put in the uniform."

Young was given his "bible," the scout's manual, and taught how to assess a player's tools.

"They tell you what to look for, what is average, what are the tools and how they play out," Young said. "But most important is the world-famous 'eye test.' You have to go out there and see for yourself. I look at the game in a totally different way than I did before."

Young shows up at Nationals game at half his playing weight

Now, Young is patrolling the hallways at MLB's annual Winter Meetings, looking for a job in scouting or player development.

"The ultimate goal for me is to be a big league hitting coach or manager, or to run a Minor League system," Young said. "At this point, I'd love a lower-level hitting coach job, a pro scouting job, you name it."

Every person he runs into, be it an old friend or new acquaintance, comments on his stunning physical transformation, and wishes him luck in his latest endeavor.

"I don't have any regrets about not losing weight sooner. Whatever happened, happened. That's what made me me." Young said. "And now I'm the new me."

Lindsay Berra is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.