Notes: Young determined to earn spot

Notes: Young determined to earn his spot

VIERA, Fla. -- Dmitri Young vows that he will be on the Nationals' Opening Day roster this year, and said he wants to help the club have fun on the field.

But, first, Young has to get into game shape. Young, 33, is currently working out in Minor League camp and playing in the team's accelerated intrasqaud games. On Friday afternoon, he was seen working hard in the weight room and acknowledged that he has to lose weight. He declined to say how much he has to lose, but baseball sources said that 10 to 15 pounds is not a stretch. Young's playing weight is listed as 220. There is no timetable as to when Young will join the Major League club.

"I feel great," Young said. "I'm trying to get back into that baseball shape. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not that far. I going to work even harder."

So far, the switch-hitting Young has shown he still has some life in the bat. In fact, he hit a home run from the left side on Thursday morning.

"Spring Training is going good. I'm just getting re-acclimated to the baseball environment and getting myself in shape. I'm meeting a lot of good young players in the process," Young said. "Seeing their energy every day and coming back out here, it gets the juices flowing for me again. They look up to me. It's real cool."

Young joined the Nationals in February and invited him to Spring Training in case Larry Broadway and Travis Lee have problems replacing Nick Johnson, who is recovering from a broken leg.

Young is coming off the worst season of his career in 2006. Besides being released by the Tigers and being put on probation because of domestic violence, Young learned this past offseason that he has type 2 diabetes. He said the illness is under control and doesn't have any problems playing baseball.

"The team has some sugar on the side for me. If [the blood sugar is low], I can have it real quick. I have the diet under control, so that helps. Exercising also stabilizes it," Young said.

Friday's outing: It was a case of good and bad on the mound on Friday against the Orioles. Left-hander Matt Chico started the game and gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings, while Levale Speigner held the Orioles scoreless for 3 2/3 innings.

Chico gave up a run in the first, held the Orioles scoreless in the second, but couldn't get out of the third inning. Chico acknowledged his mechanics weren't as good as they were in his previous outing.

"I can definitely take a lot of things out of this game, as far as pitch selection and mechanically. Everything else I thought I did pretty well," Chico said.

But manager Manny Acta continues to like the fact that Chico is not afraid on the mound. The skipper pointed out that Chico struck out Miguel Tejada with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning.

"That was a big test for him. I'm happy with the way he threw the ball," Acta said.

Speigner made his first exhibition appearance for Washington. He had been pitching in the Nationals' accelerated intrasqaud games in order to stretch him out as a starter. Before this season, Speigner spent most of his professional career as a reliever.

"That first inning, I had some nerves going," Speigner said. "I got away with being up in the zone. I had a couple of great plays behind me that helped a ton. It was good to finally get my feet wet, pitch well and be able to settle down."

This and that: Outfielder Kory Casto is 3-for-11 with four walks this spring. ... Juan Brito, Robert Fick, Abraham Nunez, Brian Schneider and Ryan Zimmerman are the only members of the Nationals to hit home runs this spring.

Stats of the day: The Nationals hit .246 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs against the American League last year.

Did you know? Robert F. Kennedy Stadium hosted the All-Star Game in 1962 and 1969, with the National League winning both games, 3-1 and 9-3, respectively.

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Coming up: The Nationals return to Space Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon to face the Mets at 1:05 p.m. ET. Washington right-hander Tim Redding will face New York left-hander Oliver Perez.

The last time Redding pitched was on Monday against the Braves. He gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.