Chien-Ming Wang’s tenure with the Nationals before this month had consisted entirely sputtering comebacks and frustrating setbacks. He threw bullpen sessions that led to more bullpen sessions that led to a break to rest his shoulder. He surely set extended spring training records of longevity.
Which makes this so difficult and, if you’re a sucker for a happy ending, so gratifying to process: Wang really seems to coming back, and he might pitch in the major leagues by the end of July.
Last night in Harrisburg, Wang made another sterling rehab start, his most impressive performance on any mound in more than two years. He allowed a Class AA lineup no runs in five innings, yielding only two hits and no walks while striking out two and producing a cavalcade of groundballs. He hit 92 miles per hour with his fastball and pitched consistently between 88 and 90. That’s good enough – in 2007, when he won 19 games, Wang’s fastball average 92.7 miles per hour.
In three rehab starts, one each at Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg, Wang has allowed two runs in 12 innings on seven hits and two walks, striking out seven. Wang made first minor league rehab start June 27, and by rule he can only remain on the disabled list for 30 more days after that first rehab appearance.
General Manager Mike Rizzo has said he sees the endpoint of Wang’s minor league rehab being the major leagues. Wang last pitched in the majors on July 4, 2009. At last, it seems like he’s almost ready to return. For real.
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NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 8, Pawtucket 2: Tom Milone allowed no runs in seven innings on two hits and two walks, striking out six. He’s got a 3.15 ERA along with 111 strikeouts and 7 walks. Michael Aubrey went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run. Chris Marrero went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk.
Harrisburg 5, Erie 0: Bryce Harper went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and a double play. Tyler Moore went 2 for 4 with a home run. Bill Rhinehart went 1 for 3 with a home run.
Potomac 6, Frederick 4: J.P. Ramirez went 3 for 5 with two doubles. Eury Perez went 2 for 3. Jeff Kobernus went 3 for 5.
Hagerstown 4, West Virginia 2: A.J. Cole allowed no runs in six innings on three hits and no walks, striking out sevne. Michael Taylor went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run. Mills Rogers went 2 for 4 with a double. Sean Nicol went 2 for 3 with a walk.
Jamestown 7, Auburn 6: Matt Skole went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk.Wilfri Pena went 3 for 4 with a double and a home run.