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04/30/07 1:00 PM ET

Mailbag: What to do with Young?

Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson answers fans' questions

The Nationals are off to a slow start, and fans want to know what the team can do to get better. Here are some answers to the fans' questions.

It seems that the Nationals can't seem to get everything to work together in one game. When the pitching is there, the hitting isn't, and vice versa. What gives?
-- Patrick B., Fairfax, Va.

It's hard to say why it's that way. However, I think the pitching is better than expected. I don't think it's a stretch to say the offense is the No. 1 reason for the subpar record during the month April. When a team has a .174 batting average with runners in scoring position, you are going to have serious problems winning games.

I think the Nationals need a slugger to improve the lineup. The Nationals have been trying to trade for Wily Mo Pena for months. He would look pretty good on this team.

When first baseman Nick Johnson is activated, what will the Nationals do with Dmitri Young?
-- Dylan P., Shiloh, Ohio

I think one of two things will happen -- either Young will be traded or come off the bench as a first baseman/outfielder. I don't see the Nationals benching Ryan Church because of the way he has played this year. Church is their best hitter by far.

If Ronnie Belliard continues to play well, do you see him as trade bait later on in the year?
-- Timothy H., Washington D.C.

Yes, because the Nationals are looking to rebuild their team with prospects. I'll be very surprised if Belliard is with the team long term.

With Belliard hitting the ball well and playing exceptional defense, do you think he will remain starting second baseman? Belliard and Felipe Lopez seem to have good chemistry, especially when turning the double play.
-- Jeff C., Arlington, Va.

Manager Manny Acta has declined to announce his plans once Cristian Guzman returns to the lineup, but I have to believe the double-play combination of Guzman/Lopez will return in Milwaukee this week. Acta does not strike me as a guy who would bench someone because of injury.

What are the chances of Billy Traber being in the big leagues this year?
-- Gary B., El Segundo, Calif.

Not anytime soon, because the bullpen is currently set with Ray King and Micah Bowie as the lefty pitchers.

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Is there any likelihood that the Nationals will start giving Jesus Flores some significant playing time? Brian Schneider seems as good as he will ever get. Good defensive catchers who hit below .250 are not that difficult to find. If Flores is the catcher of the future, why not play him now? Manny Acta or Randy St. Claire could call the pitches from the bench.
-- Dale T., Cleveland

Acta does not strike me as a person who gives quick hooks after slow starts. Schneider is the starter for the foreseeable future.

When will left-handed starter Mike O'Connor be activated from the disabled list?
-- Mike H., Washington D.C.

I was told that O'Connor, who has an elbow injury, is ahead of schedule and could return to the big leagues sometime in June.

Is there any chance of Church hitting in the cleanup spot?
-- Dustin C., Wolfville, Nova Scotia

I think the Nationals have to consider it because he is their best hitter and has patience at the plate.

A comment from a Nationals fan: "Josh Wilson could help down the road, but needs more seasoning. D'Angelo Jimenez is not playing well. Both of them could be replaced by Bernie Catro, who is speedy and playing well for Triple-A Columbus." -- Ed, Washington, D.C.

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