Making his first rehab appearance, Chien-Ming Wang threw 51 pitches over three innings this afternoon in an extended spring training game. Wang allowed one run on five hits and no walks while striking out three against the Tigers’ extended spring training team.
Wang is returning from the hamstring strain he suffered March 15 during a spring training start. Manager Davey Johnson had hoped Wang could return by late April or early May, but the Nationals can take more time if they wish. Because Wang did not pitch at an affiliate, it’s not clear if his 30-day clock to make a rehab appearance has officially started.
The Nationals raved about Wang during spring training. He regained velocity on his power sinker, throwing it between 90 and 93 miles per hour in his final start. Reliever Tyler Clippard, a teammate of Wang’s during his prime years with the Yankees, said he had never seen him throw better sliders. Johnson considered Wang one of his best three starting pitchers.
Despite their high opinion of Wang, the Nationals still could have trouble slotting him into a rotation with no weak spots. The Nationals had planned to bump fifth starter Ross Detwiler to the bullpen upon Wang’s return, but in his first three starts Detwiler has posted a 0.56 ERA, second in the majors.
“That’s a good problem,” Johnson said over the weekend. “I’ll leave that up to [General Manager Mike Rizzo]. You can never have enough pitching. It’s a nice luxury to have. Probably 29 other clubs would like to have that problem.
“If we start worrying about problems a couple weeks down the road, you’re over-burdening yourself. There’s things that crop up every day you’ve just got to deal with. That’s a problem I don’t have to address for some time.”