Little has gone right for Chien-Ming Wang this season. But when the veteran right-hander threw a bullpen session Friday afternoon at Nationals Park, manager Davey Johnson believed he witnessed a few minutes of hope in the sticky air.
Johnson, in fact, could barely contain his superlatives about Wang’s brief outing.
Great movement. Great location. Strong velocity. Ball down. Great bullpen.
No, Johnson wasn’t describing Stephen Strasburg.
Wang didn’t sound much like the pitcher beset by a bum hamstring and balky hip this season when he pitched more for Double-A Harrisburg than the Nationals. And those 15 minor league rehabilitation starts — compared to just four starts in Washington — didn’t inspire much confidence in Wang’s ability to contribute here. Over starts for four minor league affiliates, Wang allowed 95 hits (including nine home runs), 17 walks and 49 runs over 80 innings.
But after Friday’s bullpen session, Johnson insisted he wouldn’t hesitate to start Wang in the middle of the pennant race if the opportunity arose.
Yes, the same Wang who has 26 minor league rehabilitation starts in his brief Nationals career versus 10 in the big leagues (plus a $7.2 million investment since 2010).
“That’s the best I’ve seen him since spring training,” Johnson said. “If he was throwing (in the minor leagues) like he was today, he would’ve been off the charts.”
Johnson believed Wang has tried to be perfect and, as a result, overthrew and been far from ideal.
“I wouldn’t have any problem at all starting him,” Johnson said.
— Fracas fallout: Johnson hasn’t heard from Major League Baseball regarding Thursday’s fracas with the Chicago Cubs, when the benches cleared twice and three players, including Nationals left-hander Mike Gonzalez, plus one coach were ejected. Johnson asked general manager Mike Rizzo to send MLB a note complimenting how the umpires handled the situation.
— Minor leaguers in town: Nationals minor league pitcher of the year Nathan Karns and hitter of the year Matt Skole visited the clubhouse before the game.
Here are Friday’s lineups:
Bryan Petersen, LF
Justin Ruggiano, CF
Jose Reyes, SS
Giancarlo Stanton, RF
Carlos Lee, 1B
Greg Dobbs, 3B
Donovan Solano, 2B
Rob Brantly, C
Jacob Turner, RHP
Jayson Werth, RF
Bryce Harper, CF
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Michael Morse, LF
Ian Desmond, SS
Danny Espinosa, SS
Kurt Suzuki, C
Stephen Strasburg, RHP