Chien-Ming Wang, the Nationals right-hander who missed the entire 2010 season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery, made his return to the mound today, throwing a shutout inning against the Detroit Tigers in the Nationals’ instructional league.
Wang’s interpreter, Alan Chang, said he faced four batters, walking one, and was clocked between 85-87 mph.
The Nationals are hoping Wang makes a full recovery from shoulder surgery; Wang’s agent, Alan Nero, said both sides are open to a contract for 2011 before the Nationals would have to decide whether to offer Wang arbitration, but are waiting to see how he progresses through the fall.
This is not good news for Wang fans. When he was pitching well on the Yankees he sat around 92-95 mph. If he is still only at 85-87 mph this far after he’s had surgery, then he still has a while to go.
At this point the Nationals would be foolish to offer him anything more than a minor league contract. Even if he is healthy enough to pitch in 2011, there is a pretty good chance that he won’t be good enough to pitch in the majors.
If he ever gets his velocity back at all it might take a decent amount of time pitching in the minors for him to build up arm strength. This is not an elbow injury here, this is a shoulder problem and unfortunately that can mean the end of his career.