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Nationals Journal

Friday, February 18, 2011; D10

Wang's return will proceed with care

Chien-Ming Wang threw a bullpen session Thursday, but he did not appear as close to returning to a big league mound as the Nationals had hoped.

Still recovering from major shoulder surgery almost 20 months ago, Wang threw softly in his fifth bullpen session of the spring. He has been in Viera for two weeks, but he has made clear he wants to move slowly. He said on Monday that he expects to begin the regular season in the minor leagues, building up stamina and strength in his arm.

"If that's what he says, than I certainly have to expect that," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "Initially, I think through the winter we kind of felt he would be in spring training competing for a job. But again, we want to be really conservative. Usually, it's the player who's telling you otherwise. They're trying to speed the process up. In this case, if he's willing to slow it down, I know we will be."

Though the low level of intensity in Wang's session indicated he has a long way to go, the Nationals liked what the saw. "I thought he threw the ball good," pitching coach Steve McCatty said. "First day, I thought he looked fine."

The real test for Wang will come Friday, when he and coaches will see how his shoulder has recovered.

"The next day is when we really want to check him out," Riggleman said. "How do you feel after sleeping that night? We'll get a little more information about that tomorrow."

Strasburg talks Harper

Stephen Strasburg has not yet had a chance to speak with Bryce Harper, the player who will find himself in roughly the same space Strasburg occupied a year ago, a supreme talent and sport-wide fascination. Harper is due to arrive at camp Friday.

But in 2007, during Strasburg's sophomore year at San Diego State, he attended a game for the travel team he once played for. On that team was 15-year-old Bryce Harper.

"They said, 'Oh, you got to check out this kid. He's 15 years-old playing against 18-year-olds,' " Strasburg said Thursday. "So I saw him throwing 93 off the mound. And I was like, 'Okay, I'll remember that name.' Sure enough, it looks like we'll be teammates sometime down the road."

- Adam Kilgore

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