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Johnson to miss season following second surgery on broken leg

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals have been waiting all
year for first baseman Nick Johnson's broken right leg to heal. Now
they'll have to wait until next year.

General manager Jim Bowden said Thursday that Johnson will have
another surgery on the leg and will not play in 2007.

"We just couldn't quite get over the hump with his hip,"
Bowden said. "He couldn't quite get to the ground ball to his
left. His hitting has come along great. There was no question in
our mind that he made tremendous progress offensively. But it just
wasn't allowing him to be Nick Johnson. You've got to have the hip
in baseball."

Johnson broke his right femur in a collision with right fielder
Austin Kearns during a game against the New York Mets on Sept. 23,
2006. At the time -- and for several weeks afterward -- the Nationals
were confident Johnson would recover in time for this year's spring
training.

But Johnson wasn't ready in February, and the date for his
return was pushed back several times. He has received two cortisone
shot this year dull the pain in the hip.

With Johnson showing little improvement, he was sent this week
to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors confirmed he
had bursitis in the hip and recommended an operation to remove the
rod and screw that had been inserted in the leg. The surgery will
be performed Saturday in Washington.

"The medical people have been very clear," Bowden said. "They
all believe he'll be able to play in 2008."

Johnson was expected to be a lynchpin of the Nationals' batting
attack this year. He hit .290 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs in
2006.

With Johnson out, Dmitri Young has been a surprisingly effective
replacement. Young was hitting .333 entering Thursday's game
against Philadelphia and was selected to play in this year's
All-Star Game.