Before last season, the Nationals signed Chien-Ming Wang to a single year $2 million dollar tryout. At the time Wang was coming off major shoulder surgery, and the team has paid him this entire season to rehab his injury. The hope was that if Wang was ever able to regain his pitching ability, he would do so while still a member of the organization. It was a small risk, similar reward situation.
It has taken eight months, but according to Ben Goessling, Wang finally got that shoulder situation all figured out, or at least enough so that he can make his first appearance with the Nationals today WOO!
Well not really the Nationals, their season is over and this is just a game being played in the Fall Instructional League. But he will be representing the organization, so he'll probably have a Nationals t-shirt on or something. And we'll take it! Chien-Ming Wang is BACK!!!!
Goessling has quotes from Alan Wang, who serves as Chien-Ming's agent agent. You can cut the frustrated optimism with a knife.
"t's a long process, every day, doing the same thing, not sure about what the next month's going to bring," said Alan Chang, who works with agent Alan Nero and serves as Wang's interpreter. "Everybody's affected through the rehab. But he has a perseverance about him. Now, he's beginning to understand and getting used to his new shoulder. ... He's starting to get that feeling again. You're starting to see his smile."
Just in case anyone was getting totally amped about Wang making this start today, Goessling provides some facts that might cause you to temper your expectations.
But as the season wore on, the complexities of Wang's rehab became more apparent and the likelihood of getting him on the mound for the Nationals grew more remote. General manager Mike Rizzo said several times this year there was no baseball precedent for the kind of shoulder surgery Wang had - the closest parallel was New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, he said - and the Taiwanese pitcher's tedious rehab went from bullpen sessions, live batting practice and playing catch, seemingly interminably.
Brees has obviously been very successful since then, but it was a long shot at the time, and I don't think it can be assumed that Wang will make it through the same surgery with as good of a result. He suffered a devastating injury to a joint a pitcher needs more than any position in all of sports, getting back to what he once is not even close to being guaranteed.
But there's no need to spoil the party, we'll worry about all that stuff next Spring. For now, Chien-Ming Wang, baby!!! I just hope this isn't the surefire number one starter Rizzo was talking about acquiring this Winter.