Young's comeback an All-Star story

Young's comeback an All-Star story

PITTSBURGH -- Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young is living proof of what a person can do if given a second chance.

After being released by the Tigers near the end of the 2006 season -- a year in which he was going through a divorce, given a one-year probation for domestic violence as well as being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes -- Young has made a remarkable return to the Majors. He is currently the Nationals' leading hitter with a .340 batting average and .392 on-base percentage.

And now, he is an All-Star.

Young, 33, was selected by Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa -- his first big-league manager -- to be on the National League squad for the second time in his career on Sunday, punctuating an already successful season.

Young's first All-Star selection came in 2003 as a member of the Tigers, but he did not get a chance to play in that game as the American League edged the National League, 7-6. Young said he would like to get at least one at-bat in this year's All-Star Game, which will be played July 10 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

"This is a great feeling. I've come full circle and this pretty much made it official," Young said. "Let this be a lesson to people who deal with adversity that you never quit. Keep fighting, believe in the Lord, keep working and day-by-day, you can realize dreams."

"I never thought [about being an All-Star]," he added. "I looked at the season as getting my swing back, being able to go out there and play and show I had something in the tank. This is a bonus for me. I'm fortunate. This is my second one. It's definitely rewarding for everything I've been through. I will continue to work."

Young received the word early Sunday morning from general manager Jim Bowden, the man who gave Young a second chance. Bowden acknowledged that he had a tear in his eye when he told Young the news.

"It was an emotional phone call. I really care about Dmitri. I'm just so happy for him," Bowden said. "He did this all by himself and he turned his life around all by himself. He made the most of his second opportunity."

Young is planning to take his parents, three children and high school pal/teammate Robert Fick to the All-Star festivities.

All-Star Game Coverage
"I'm so proud of him. He has turned into a man. He is a great dad, teammate and a great hitter," Fick said.

The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

Young thought his career was over after the 2006 season. His plan was to drive his camper across the country and watch his siblings, including Devil Rays outfielder Delmon Young, play sports. But Delmon and his father, Larry, told him he had too much left in the tank to quit.

The Nationals were the only team interested in Young. He had a history with Bowden, as the two worked together when both were with the Reds from 1998-2001.

Bowden wasn't convinced that Larry Broadway and Travis Lee would provide the consistency with the bat, so he invited Young to Spring Training. The Nationals told him there was a no-tolerance policy if Young had problems off the field again. They would release him the moment he got himself in trouble.

With Young out of shape, the Nationals let him work with the top prospects in the accelerated camp and it was those Minor Leaguers that pumped him up to play again.

"Those kids down there, man, they are the future and they brought life back in me," Young said. "I was not sure that I still had it. They had that little profound way to get it out of me. They asked innocent baseball questions and they made me feel good to answer them. They just wanted to hear about the big leagues."

Young is playing like a youngster again. His .423 batting average (63-for-149 ) in his last 40 games since May 17 leads the Major Leagues and is the leader in the clubhouse.

"He went through a lot," first baseman Nick Johnson said. "He is a good player swing the bat. He hits the ball extremely hard. He has a great spray chart working."

How long will Young continue to hit for the Nationals? He is on the trade block and the Nationals would love to get prospects for him. Young has made it clear that he wants to stay with the Nationals.

"I was given a chance over here. I love the guys over here. I love what they are going to do with the organization. I don't want to go," Young said.

After the fans selected the starters, the Players' Ballot determined eight reserves and eight pitchers per league.

The 2003 season marked the introduction of the Player Ballot to the All-Star selection process. Each league's players, managers and coaches elect eight position players and eight pitchers from their league. Catchers and infielders who finish in the top two at their position on the Player Ballot, and outfielders among the top six, are assured of making the All-Star Team. In instances where the winners of the Player Ballot are also fan-elected starters, the player with the next highest amount of votes on the Player Ballot makes the All-Star Team. Eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers -- become All-Stars through the Player Ballot. The manager of each World Series team from the prior season --in this year's case, Detroit's Jim Leyland and La Russa -- then fills the remaining slots on their respective teams, ensuring that one player from all 30 clubs is named to the All-Star Game.

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