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03/01/09 8:15 PM ET

Nats stunned by Bowden's resignation

Many owe gratitude to team's former general manager

VIERA, Fla. -- After Jim Bowden told the entire Nationals team he was resigning as general manager, they reacted with shock and disbelief.

Manager Manny Acta thought Bowden was going to give the team a pep talk about the season. While in Phoenix dealing with arbitration cases, Bowden had missed the first full-squad meeting.

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"The news caught me by surprise," Acta said. "It takes a lot of courage for him to do that. As a manager, I appreciate what he did if he felt that he was being a distraction here. I will always be grateful and have a soft spot for Jim, because I interviewed with five clubs and he was the one that have me my first opportunity to manage [in the big leagues]. Is he perfect? No. [But] few are brighter and few worked harder than him."

Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young took the news hardest. It was Bowden who gave Young a second chance in the Majors. After the 2006 season, a lot of people thought Young's career was over when he was sentenced to a year's probation for domestic assault. Not Bowden. Young rewarded Bowden by winning the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2007.

"He is that type of guy to give you a chance," Young said. "Jim forgets what happened in the past. He allows you to play ball and gives you every opportunity in the world. That's what he did for me. I saw him do it for Pete Harnisch, Ronnie Gant ... the list goes on and on."

With Bowden gone, one has to wonder what Young's future is with the Nationals. Young is owed $5 million, but the chances of him making the 25-man roster are slim.

"Jim is the one that brought me over here. I really don't know [what my future is here]. We have to see how it plays out," Young said.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he could tell Bowden was emotional during the team meeting. Zimmerman realizes Bowden put in a lot of work to put the 2009 team together.

"Anytime you [resign], it's going to be tough," Zimmerman said. "He has always treated me very good. We had a great relationship. He drafted me. I'm sure he pushed to get me here as quickly as it happened. Obviously, there is a close relationship. It's tough any time."

Outfielder Lastings Milledge wonders if there would be player moves now that Bowden is no longer on the team.

"I hope we can keep the same team, but you never know," Milledge said. "You get new coaches, new players and players get released, but when a GM resigns, that a big move. So now people are trying to find their places -- stuff like that. So everything is kind of crazy right now."

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