JUPITER, Fla. — This is a bit of a late note given that right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw Saturday in the Nationals’ victory over the New York Mets but since it was a split-squad day and Wang threw in Viera while I was in Lakeland, Sunday was the first opportunity I had to ask Nationals manager Davey Johnson about it.
The reviews were extremely positive. Wang was making his first start of the spring after throwing in a simulated game last Monday and he was clocked 88-91 mph with his fastball and had great sink. When the ball is sinking like that, one coach said, you know it’s going to be a good day.
“Really, from the first pitch he threw the ball was coming out of his hand free and easy with more authority than it was even last year at the end,” Johnson said. “As far as I was concerned it was a great outing.”
Wang threw two innings and around 40 pitches. He allowed three hits, a walk and two earned runs, but the results really didn’t matter much to Johnson or anyone else who watched Wang and could see how far the right-hander has come over the past two-plus years.
The Nationals were prepared to treat Wang as if he was any other pitcher this spring and, thus far, they’ve been able to basically do that — a big step in itself for him — but the best part about his outing Saturday may have been how strong he was at the end of things. He finished things off with a 2-2 curveball for a strikeout to end the second inning and that spoke volumes to Johnson.
“That in itself tells me how a guy was feeling,” Johnson said. “If your arm’s not feeling well, you can’t do that with a breaking ball.”
Wang is on schedule to pitch against his former team, the Yankees, on Thursday March 15 but with he and John Lannan on the same schedule the Nationals will likely have one pitch in a minor league game while the other throws to the big leaguers.