Young makes career turnaround, agrees to $10 million extension

NEW YORK -- Dmitri Young got another chance with Washington,
and the Nationals aren't about to let him go now.

Young and the Nationals finalized a $10 million, two-year
contract extension through 2009, capping an amazing turnaround for
the All-Star first baseman.

"It wasn't that hard because both sides were interested in
getting it done," Young said. "For me, this is an organization
that believed in me when my chips were down. I have a great support
system here and I see the good things that are happening in this

Young will earn $5 million each in 2008 and 2009, and the
contract also contains a $6 million option for 2010 that would
become guaranteed if he has 500 plate appearances in 2009 or 900
combined in 2008 and 2009.

Details of the deal were provided by a person familiar with the
talks who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity
because no announcements on the terms were authorized.

"This was an easy decision for us to make," team president
Stan Kasten said. "We couldn't be happier. He's been so great for
us all year and we hope that continues on to the future."

Young, who turns 34 in October, signed a non-guaranteed, minor
league deal with Washington in February and is hitting .330 with
nine homers and 54 RBIs this season.

He was out of baseball altogether at the end of 2006 after being
released by the Detroit Tigers with less than a month left in the
regular season.

That was only one part of Young's troublesome year, which
included an assault charge, treatment for alcoholism and
depression, and being hospitalized for diabetes.

"The person last year wasn't me," he said. "I've fought to
get myself back to where I want to be."

General manager Jim Bowden, who knew Young from their days
together with the Cincinnati Reds, decided to give him an
opportunity and it's paid off.

"We are very pleased that Dmitri Young has decided to remain
with us in Washington," Bowden said in a statement. "His
infectious love for the game, and playing it the right way, has had
a positive influence on this ballclub both in the clubhouse and on
the field."

Young made the team as the starting first baseman in place of
the injured Nick Johnson and has turned into the last-place
Nationals' top hitter. Johnson has struggled to come back after
breaking his right leg last season but is trying to get back on the
field this year.

Young said he would move to the outfield to make room for
Johnson if necessary.

"It's going to be a decision that we're going to have to make
in the future when both of them are here ready to contribute,"
manager Manny Acta said.

Young is with his fourth club in a major league career that
began in 1996. He also was an All-Star in 2003 with Detroit.

He is the second veteran player recently given a two-year
extension by the rebuilding Nationals. Infielder Ronnie Belliard --
who like Young is in his 30s and joined the team in February with a
minor league contract -- agreed to a $3.5 million deal through 2009.

"This week that we've been able to retain two real quality
veteran leaders, competitors, that's a real plus for us," Kasten

Belliard, now the starting second baseman, has a .298 average
with six homers and 32 RBIs.

Young went 1-for-8 as the Nationals split a day-night
doubleheader with the Mets on Saturday. He hit an RBI single in the
third inning of the nightcap to help Washington win 6-5.