The Washington Times - March 5, 2012, 08:37PM

VIERA, Fla — A couple dozen Washington Nationals’ staffers and media, three television cameras, one radar gun and one fan clutching a Taiwanese flag gathered near Field 3 at the team’s spring training complex Monday afternoon.

Chien-Ming Wang was the object of the attention, as the right-hander pitched two innings in an intrasquad minor league game. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was there. So was owner Mark Lerner.


They saw Wang allow hard-hit balls to two of the first three batters, then settle down to strike out three men during his stint. Wang threw 31 pitches, 24 for strikes, and tossed a few more in a post-start bullpen session.

Wang’s fastball topped out at 91 miles per hour and sat around 88 to 89 mph with good movement. That delighted another onlooker, manager Davey Johnson.

“I’ve kind of got him in that Strasburg mode: he’s back,” Johnson said. “I’m going to give him as much work as he needs to get ready for the regular season.

“I even got a grin out of him. He’s pretty serious.”

Johnson thought Wang’s slider was flat against right-handers and noted he’s tinkering with his curveball. The leadoff batter, Brian Goodwin, whacked a hanging 0-2 curveball to the right-center field wall for a triple.

Wang started 11 games in 2011 for the Nationals after missing all of 2010 and most of 2009 after right shoulder surgery. During the offseason, he worked to build arm strength. Wang believes his arm is in better shape today than it was at the end of last season.

“Overall, I felt pretty good,” Wang said through his interpreter. “My arm strength was pretty good. I tried to get myself in game situations. My breaking ball was obviously a little bit high. I guess I need to make an adjustment.”

Johnson plans to next start Wang on March 10 at Space Coast Stadium.

ALSO: John Lannan threw three innings of one-run baseball as the Nationals beat the Mets 3-1 at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie on Monday night.

Fighting for a spot in the Nationals’ crowded starting rotation, Lannan scattered three hits and walked one batter. Like other pitchers making their spring debut, Lannan worked on basics like finding rhythm and hitting spots.

Lannan’s two- and four-seam fastballs felt good to the left-hander and he kept his breaking balls down.

“I liked what I saw,” Johnson said. “He’s usually aggressive early then he settles down and hits his spots and makes it look easy.”

Rick Ankiel, one of the few regulars on the trip, showed off his more relaxed approach at the plate when he hammered a 2-0 sinker over the fence in left field for a solo home run. Bryce Harper added a pair of singles, including a ground ball to third he beat out.

Johnson said Harper was timed at 4.2 seconds from home to first Monday, an impressive number for a player who takes big swings.