In his most significant step so far in his comback from a strained right hamstring, starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang threw approximately 35 pitches today in a simulated game in Viera, Fla., and looked strong doing so, according to Nationals Manager Davey Johnson.
Johnson specifically singled out Wang’s hard sinker and lively curveball as highlights of the simulated game.
“Well, he threw really good,” Johnson said.
The next step for Wang is a minor league rehab assignment in five days. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings in his first rehab work, and the timetable remains unchanged for his anticpated return to the Nationals rotation by the end of the month.
Although GM Mike Rizzo recently indicated there hasn’t been a determination how many rehab starts Wang would require, the Nationals want Wang, who has tossed live batting practice, to be able to throw 100 pitches before resuming his spot in the rotation.
That process may take less time than a typical pitcher’s rehab because Wang hurt his leg and not his arm. Johnson even suggested as much when he said he didn’t think Wang would need the maximum 30 days to complete his rehab assignment.
“His arm had made so much progress since last September,” Johnson said. “He was ahead of that just reporting to spring training.”
The Nationals have the luxury of not having to rush Wang back into the rotation. No. 5 starter Ross Detwiler has allowed one earned run in 10 innings, and Washington has big league veteran John Lannan in Class AAA Syracuse.
“It’s going to be kind of a nice problem to have, being that crowded,” Johnson said.