CHICAGO — Chien-Ming Wang took another step in his recovery on Saturday, throwing off a mound in Viera, Fla. for the first time since he strained his left hamstring on March 15.
Wang had no issues making throws off the mound, which can put more pressure than flat-ground throws on an injury like Wang’s, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson estimated the right-hander is still “about three weeks away.”
Wang, along with closer Drew Storen, is rehabbing in Viera so he could remain in warm weather while the Nationals begin the season in Chicago and New York where the weather is unpredictable. All the reports on his recovery have been good to this point but the Nationals have no intention of rushing him back to the rotation — and plan to get a good look at Ross Detwiler in the No. 5 spot in the meantime.
– Nationals outfielder Michael Morse returned to Bowie, Md., and rejoined the Nationals’ Double-A affiliate Harrisburg Senators for Sunday’s game after receiving treatment in New York in his strained right lat. Morse, who visited a doctor in New York on the advice of Jayson Werth, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday. Whether he will or not, though, the Nationals aren’t sure at this point.
Johnson said he’s taking Morse’s situation day-by-day at this point but has been encouraged by how both he and Rick Ankiel (quad) have been hitting with Harrisburg.
Ankiel is 3-for-7 with two home runs (including one to the opposite field) and a walk during his rehab assignment with Harrisburg. Morse is 2-for-6 with a double and a home run.
“They’re still four or five days away,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to comment on when I think they’ll be ready but they’ve had some early-on success down there swinging the bat. But neither one of them have played nine innings yet so we’re talking about them up here and they haven’t even played past four or five innings down there.”
When the time comes for either or both to be activated, the Nationals will have some roster decisions to make. One option they would have, if they were comfortable with it, would be to go with 11 pitchers given that they expect their starting rotation to be pitching deep into games.
Johnson shot that idea down — at least in the short term — on Sunday, though, saying that his starters were not stretched out enough yet for him to consider it at this time.