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12/10/08 12:29 AM EST

Young ready to earn spot with Nats

Injury-plagued first baseman left unprotected for Rule 5 Draft

LAS VEGAS -- Agent Adam Katz said on Tuesday that his client, Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young, was not surprised that he was left unprotected for Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

On Nov. 4, the Nationals outrighted Young to Triple-A Syracuse. Young, who did not elect to become a free agent, has one year left on his contract, which is worth $5 million.

"It was not unexpected," Katz said. "He understand that he has to battle for a position. The Nationals have been very good to him and he has been very good to the Nationals. He understands that he has to compete and be ready to go."

Young is coming off a season in which he played in only 50 games -- all in the first half -- and hit .280 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. He missed time in the first half because of back problems. After the All-Star break, Young participated in the team's workouts and said his back was 100 percent, but he couldn't play because he felt light-headed and his diabetes wasn't under control.

Young was activated from the disabled list on Sept. 7, but he didn't play an inning because of a left hip injury. He hurt the hip during a rehab assignment with Class A Vermont.

Katz said that Young is working out and hopes to be ready for Spring Training. If he makes the 25-man roster, Young will be no more than a backup.

"He is doing very well. He is getting himself in condition and he looks forward to Spring Training," Katz said.

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