Manager Davey Johnson expressed doubt Chien-Ming Wang will be ready to pitch once the season begins, giving left-hander John Lannan the inside track to become the Nationals’ opening day fifth starter.
Doctors have estimated a two-week recovery for Wang, who strained his left hamstring during a spring training start March 15. But with opening day 15 days away, Johnson believes Wang will not recover in time for him to join the rotation after seeing the bruise on his hamstring.
“He’s got a lot of bleeding in there,” Johnson said. “He’s moving around, walking good. But from what I saw today, he’s got quite a bit of blood in there. Before he gets on the mound, I’d say three weeks, maybe a month. I saw a lot of blood in there. I was surprised at all the bleeding.”
Wang went through a small workout with his personal trainer today and said he felt improvement in his strained left hamstring. Wang also plans to play catch tomorrow.
If Johnson’s concerns come to fruition, Lannan will gain more security in the Nationals’ rotation. The Nationals plan to keep Lannan on his current pitching schedule, starting once every five days. Lannan had been in an uncertain role, the subject of trade rumors without a spot for him in the rotation.
“I’m not thinking too much about it,” Lannan said. “I’m just going from start to start, day to day, and everything is going to work out.”
Today, Lannan pitched four scoreless innings with 79 pitches, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out two. Lannan had been having trouble keeping his sinker down consistently in his previous spring starts, but he had better control with the pitch today.
“It’s going to come along,” Lannan said. “I’m not expecting magically to feel better right when spring training starts. As long as I progress each outing and build off the outing, I should be okay.”