When Chien-Ming Wang climbed the mound today for his first live batting practice session. Pitching coach Steve McCatty and General Manager Mike Rizzo chose to watch him over the other two pitchers throwing at the time. Manager Davey Johnson also ambled over to watch him pitch.
The Nationals had given Wang an extra day of rest between mound sessions, wanting to let him build up arm strength slowly this spring. Wang missed more than two years with a torn capsule in his right shoulder before returning last July, and his health will go a long way in determining whether he or John Lannan will be the Nationals’ fifth starter.
With the Nationals officials watching, Wang was impressive. His curveball was sharp from the start and his fastball gained velocity as he threw, signs that he had been able to fully warm up his arm, a problem at times last season.
“I don’t want to overanalyze off live BP,” McCatty said, “but he threw the ball good today.”
Said Johnson: “His delivery is free and easy,” Johnson said. “As he went along, he got stronger. His velocity was better. That’s his pace. He’s a veteran pitcher. He knows what he has to do to peak at the right time.
“Last year, I was worried from start to start there might be a flare up or something. It took him more to get loose.”
In other news:
>>> Reliever Henry Rodriguez, who arrived late to camp because of a personal matter, threw off the mound Sunday for the first time. Rodriguez pitched 23 2/3 innings in winter ball, and Johnson expects him to be ready less than a week into the Grapefruit League schedule. “Arm strength-wise, he’s probably ahead of a lot of guys,” Johnson said. “I’m not concerned about him.”
>>> Before their workout this morning, the Nationals held their annual meeting to address dealing with the media.
“We warned them about Tweeter and Facebook and all kinds of sites,” Johnson said. “Nothing’s secret anymore. I did point to a couple guys and said, ‘Now you listen to this.’ I’m mentioning any names, but you know probably who.”
More from PostSports:
— Ryan Zimmerman’s contract extension fulfills the hope he always had: playing his whole career in Washington.
— Tom Boswell details the effect Gio Gonzalez’s parents had on his life – and on his unique curveball.
— Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are still circling each other, but Gonzalez’s curveball stole the show at Day One of live batting practice.