When Washington Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young thinks about the worst part of last year, he doesn't pick his arrest and guilty plea in the assault of an ex-girlfriend. He doesn't choose his time last summer in a substance abuse clinic or those days last November in an intensive care unit before he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Or even last September's unceremonious divorce from the Detroit Tigers, a team for whom he played the previous five seasons. No, the nadir was not being able to leave Detroit -- per court order in the assault case -- last October when his ex-teammates were making a run to the World Series.
"Having to stay in Detroit during the playoffs, that was the worst by far," he said.
The husky first baseman is rebounding nicely, though. His old boss in Cincinnati, current Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, gave him a chance on a minor league deal this spring and Young, 33, is now among the Nats' team leaders in RBIs, on-base percentage and total bases. More importantly, he's regained the respect he once had among his peers.
"He's been terrific in our clubhouse and on the field; everyone loves him in there," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "I really don't care what he's done before. I judge him for what he has done here and he's been a model citizen for us."
Birds falling in Denver
This spring, the Colorado Rockies looked like Orioles West.
Starter Rodrigo Lopez was traded there in January, setup man LaTroy Hawkins signed as a free agent and catchers Javy Lopez and Geronimo Gil were both hoping to earn a 25-man roster spot.
Now, only one is currently playing for the Rockies.
Rodrigo Lopez looked refreshed in Denver this month, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. He allowed just 17 base runners in his first 17 innings, but was pulled from his last start due to right-elbow tightness. He was placed on the disabled list Thursday.
Hawkins began the season as the eighth-inning set-up man, but he allowed six runs in his first eight appearances and lost three games. Now, he has been moved to a middle relief role.
Off the hook
Mark Buehrle's splendid no-hitter Wednesday against the Texas Rangers was almost perfect. The Chicago White Sox left-hander -- who, incidentally, will be a free agent at season's end -- retired the minimum 27 batters, allowing only a five-pitch walk to former Oriole Sammy Sosa. He then promptly picked off Sosa at first base.
Besides making history, Buehrle nudged the Orioles down a spot in the White Sox media guide. The last time a White Sox pitcher threw a no-hitter, it was Wilson Alvarez on Aug. 11, 1991, against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium. Alvarez walked five and struck out seven. Current TV broadcaster Dave Johnson picked up the loss in a game that featured two future big league managers: Chicago shortstop Ozzie Guillen and Orioles catcher Bob Melvin.
No clues from Jones
Atlanta center fielder Andruw Jones might be the best available player on the free-agent market this winter. He's legendary defensively, has 50-homer pop and doesn't turn 30 until tomorrow. He has said previously he wants to return to Atlanta, but now that the 2007 season is under way, he's put his future out of his mind.
"I don't think about that right now," Jones said this week. "My thinking is trying to win this year, win it all and after that, whatever happens, happens."
Jones, who is making $13.5 million this year, could exceed the seven-year, $126 million extension signed by Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells in December.
Barry Bonds' 738th career homer landed in McCovey Cove behind the right field stands at AT&T; Park in San Francisco Wednesday. It was the 42nd time a homer has landed in the water there -- and Bonds has hit 33 of them.
Quote of the week
"I probably was more nervous coming out of the eighth and going back to the ninth with the crowd going crazy. I could feel my knees shaking." -- Buehrle on the final inning of his first no-hitter, a 6-0 White Sox win.