WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Washington Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is willing to pitch in relief — as unlikely as it seems that the team would ask him to do that.
Wang has yet to pitch for Washington this season after hurting his left hamstring during a spring training appearance March 15. He’s slated to make one more start at Triple-A Syracuse as part of his rehab work but was in Washington on Wednesday to throw a bullpen session in front of coaches.
When he does make it to the majors, the Nationals will need to decide how to make room for him on the roster. All five members of Washington’s starting rotation have pitched well this season: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler.
“Maybe they want me to be a bullpen guy; that’s what I’ve got to do,” Wang said through an interpreter.
Asked whether it’s tough to know he could take someone else’s job in the rotation, Wang said: “It’s really tough for me. All of them and I, we’re close. As a teammate, I really don’t want to see that kind of situation, but … I still need to follow the team, no matter what happens.”
In his most recent start for Syracuse, on Monday, Wang went eight-plus innings, allowing four earned runs and 11 hits with one walk, one strikeout and one hit batter.
“Overall, I feel pretty good. Not bad at all. Just keep working on my stuff,” Wang said.
Three of his five career appearances in relief in the majors came in 2009, the year he had the surgery on his right shoulder that kept him out of the big leagues for two years.
When he returned last season, Wang went 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts. Relying primarily on his trademark sinker, he struck out 25 batters and walked 13 in 62 1-3 innings.
Manager Davey Johnson wouldn’t rule out the possibility of using Wang out of the bullpen. But Johnson did say: “I look at him as a quality starter.”
Wang went 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts for Washington in 2011. Relying primarily on his trademark sinker, he struck out 25 batters and walked 13 in 62 1-3 innings.
In other injury-related Nationals news, catcher Wilson Ramos confirmed what was expected: He will miss the rest of this season. Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on a play at the plate on Saturday night, and he said he will have surgery in about two or three weeks, after the swelling goes down.
Closer Drew Storen, meanwhile, took soft toss Wednesday, throwing the ball 100 times, and described the start of his rehab from elbow surgery as “a tedious process … like driving a Ferrari 5 miles an hour.”
Storen, who threw for the first time Monday then took Tuesday off, said his arm felt week but “normal, relatively speaking,” and added that he still expects to be able to pitch “right around” the All-Star break.
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