Trio of Players Still Sidelined

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Byline: Ben Goessling, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Trio of players still sidelined

The flow of injured veterans returning to the Washington Nationals' lineup could start as early as Sunday with Austin Kearns hoping he's fully recovered from a blister on his left hand. But for a pair of other injured players, the chance to get back on the field and earn a roster spot is still a few days away.

Dmitri Young's lower back tightness is still preventing him from doing any on-field activities, while Wily Mo Pena hopes to return from a strained right shoulder by the middle of the week. At some point, however, their absences could start to be just as big a concern as their health.

All three players have something to prove this spring, whether it's Kearns fighting a handful of corner outfielders for a starting spot, Pena trying to keep those same corner outfielders from bumping him off the roster and Young hoping to claw his way back onto the team after injuries and concerns about his diabetes got him removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason.

The more games you miss, you have a lesser opportunity to make an impression on our coaching staff. That's not a secret, manager Manny Acta said. I thought the opportunity was there when Adam [Dunn] went to the World Baseball Classic for us to get those guys more at-bats. …