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Padres' Young returns to San Diego to have back examined

NEW YORK -- Major league ERA leader Chris Young returned to
San Diego on Wednesday to get his ailing back examined, and the
playoff-contending Padres weren't sure when he would pitch again.

The All-Star righty was forced to leave Tuesday night's game
against the Mets after only five innings because of lower back
pain. Manager Bud Black said the team expected to know about
Young's status on Thursday after doctors tested him.

"If he misses one start, that's a big bonus. If it's two
starts, it's a bit of a blow," Black said.

Young was on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month because
of a strained muscle in his left side, and Black acknowledged that
another trip to the DL was a possibility.

"Hopefully, it won't be," he said.

Young is 9-4 with a 2.12 ERA in 23 starts. Opponents are hitting
just .184 against him, also the best mark in the majors.

The Padres lead the big leagues in pitching, the main reason
they're still competing for a postseason spot. They began the day
tied with Philadelphia for the wild-card slot and 3½ games behind
Arizona in the NL West.

If Young is not able to start Sunday in Philadelphia, either Wilfredo Ledezma or minor leaguer Tim Stauffer is likely to pitch.

Young was activated from the DL on Aug. 9. Black said Young's
latest trouble might related to his previous problem -- as in, a
case of a pitcher altering his mechanics to protect one injury but
hurting himself in another area.

"This is the classic example," Black said.

At 6-foot-10, Young might also be a bit more vulnerable to
injury.

"He's got a lot of moving parts," Black said. "He's more
susceptible."

Young gave up four runs and five hits against the New York Mets
and was pulled after 64 pitches. The Padres wound up losing 7-6.

Young usually throws his fastball around 90 mph, but he was
consistently in the mid-80s mph at Shea Stadium.

Black said he spoke to Young after the game and pitcher reported
he felt sore. Black did not speak to Young on Wednesday before his
early-morning flight to the West Coast.