The Washington Times - July 1, 2012, 10:23AM

ATLANTA — The heat was not a factor for Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang on Saturday, the unbearable climate much like the one he said he was accustomed to in Taiwan. But it was another ineffective outing for Wang, who was rushed into the game when Stephen Strasburg was removed with “heat-related symptoms” and allowed four runs in two innings of work.

Wang, who was moved out of the Nationals’ rotation 12 days ago due to ineffectiveness and a delivery flaw that he couldn’t seem to get right, has struggled in his two appearances out of the bullpen.


As a reliever, Wang has pitched three innings, given up eight hits and allowed six earned runs. He’s been working with pitching coach Steve McCatty to correct a delivery flaw in which his body moves faster than his arm, leaving his arm lagging behind and his pitches not located well. On Friday, McCatty said he saw some progress in that regard.

Wang began warming in the second inning on Saturday, he said, and he was given ample time to warm-up on the mound as well once Strasburg was pulled. But the Braves had no trouble with him and afterward, Nationals manager Davey Johnson sounded frustrated with the 32-year-old sinkerballer.

“He’s just not right,” Johnson said. “His release is not right and I’m concerned about it. He’s a veteran pitcher and it’s not really spring training. We’re in the heat of battle so, I don’t know.”

The Nationals are in something of a pickle with Wang if he can’t get things right and find a way to get his trademark sinker back. His effectiveness was not high enough for him to remain in the best rotation in the major leagues, but he’s not an ideal reliever to begin with given his career and injury history — and the results haven’t helped any.

Wang said Saturday that he felt like things were getting closer with his delivery but knows the results aren’t one’s he can afford to continue repeating.

The Nationals have relievers on the disabled list they’ll need to find room for in Henry Rodriguez and Drew Storen and, soon, they won’t be able to afford to hide someone who is working through something in the bullpen of one of the best teams in the major leagues. 

In discussing the upcoming rehab assignments of Storen and bench player Chad Tracy on Friday, Johnson alluded to as much by noting that the Nationals won’t just be looking for them to prove their health but their effectiveness and readiness to return to the major league level. 

“At this time of year and with the roster we have, I’ve got a lot of good players I don’t want to really lose,” Johnson said. “And we may lose ‘em.”

Wang’s role is such that he’s only called upon to pitch every few days but as the designated right-handed longman in the bullpen he still has to perform when called on. The first few tries haven’t gone well. The hope is that, soon, the next few will.

“Coach gave me this opportunity,” Wang said Saturday through interpreter John Hsu. “I just need to do my best and try to get myself back, just like before.”