WASHINGTON (AP) -The Washington Nationals have been waiting all year for first baseman Nick Johnson's broken right leg to heal. Now they'll have to wait until next year.
General manager Jim Bowden said Thursday that Johnson will have another surgery on the leg and will not play in 2007.
``We just couldn't quite get over the hump with his hip,'' Bowden said. ``He couldn't quite get to the ground ball to his left. His hitting has come along great. There was no question in our mind that he made tremendous progress offensively. But it just wasn't allowing him to be Nick Johnson. You've got to have the hip in baseball.''
Johnson broke his right femur in a collision with right fielder Austin Kearns during a game against the New York Mets on Sept. 23, 2006. At the time - and for several weeks afterward - the Nationals were confident Johnson would recover in time for this year's spring training.
But Johnson wasn't ready in February, and the date for his return was pushed back several times. He received a cortisone shot in July to dull the pain in the hip.
With Johnson showing little improvement, he was sent this week to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors determined that he should have another operation.
``The medical people have been very clear,'' Bowden said. ``They all believe he'll be able to play in 2008.''
Johnson was expected to be a lynchpin of the Nationals' batting attack this year. He hit .290 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs in 2006.
With Johnson out, Dmitri Young has been a surprisingly effective replacement. Young was hitting .333 entering Thursday's game against Philadelphia and was selected to play in this year's All-Star game.
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