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Posted at 07:02 PM ET, 05/19/2012

Chien-Ming Wang likely headed to bullpen when he returns, Davey Johnson says


(Julio Cortez - AP)
When he comes of the disabled list, Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is likely headed to the bullpen as a reliever, Manager Davey Johnson said. This means that, at least for now, fifth starter Ross Detwiler will possibly retain his spot in the starting rotation.

“It’s probably the easiest no decision,” Johnson said of the likely move for Wang to the bullpen. “But I don’t look at him as a reliever. I look at him as a quality major league starter.”

Johnson said he will keep Wang on a five-day rotation, meaning he would keep a starting pitcher’s schedule while in the bullpen as a long reliever. It will help avoid creating problems for Wang’s arm, Johnson said.

“There’s no secret, I really like Chien-Ming Wang,” Johnson said. “I think he’s a heck of a pitcher. I liked what I saw last year in his progression from that tremendous shoulder injury. I love the sinker baller. He’s got great pedigree. He won 19 games in a high pressure-cooker market [in New York].”

Wang said this week that, if asked, he would be willing to make a move to the bullpen.

Wang’s 30-day rehab period ends May 27 and the Nationals will likely take up the fully allotted time to make the move. The preseason solution was to make space for Wang in the rotation by moving Detwiler to the bullpen.

But Detwiler has pitched well in seven starts this season, notching a 3-2 record and 2.75 ERA in 39 1/3 innings, while striking out 28 batters and only walking 10.

“Detwiler has pitched himself into a role as one of the main guys not only from this year but for future years,” Johnson said. “Everybody says it’s a good problem to have.”

Wang is making his fifth rehab start on Saturday for Class AAA Syracuse. He could possibly squeeze in one more start before his rehab assignment ends.

“I think from what I’ve seen, and what I’ve seen the other day on TV, and knowing what I know about him, I think he’s not as far along as guys I have starting, All of them can go 100 pitches. He’s probably not at that point. But he’s real close. He’s very pitch-efficient. So if I had to start him another game down in Syracuse, he could get 80 pitches into the eighth inning. That’s how efficient he is.”

By  |  07:02 PM ET, 05/19/2012

 
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