Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Return of the Wanger?

Chien-Ming Wang quickly became one of my favorite Yankees after his recall from the minors in 2005. His 8-5, 4.02 performance helped the Yankees win the AL East over Boston in a race that went down to the wire. Back-to-back 19 win seasons followed, but then so did injuries and the unemployment line beckoned this winter.

Chad Jennings of the LoHud Journal reported that Wang is worked out for the Yankees' scouts Wednesday morning in a move that could lead Wang back to the pinstripes. Interest grew after Wang was scouted over the last month and pitched Chinese Taipei (6 shutout innings) to a victory over Australia in the World Baseball Classic.

Wang's woes began in 2008 when he tore the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot and missed the final 3 1/2 months of the season. He was 8-2, 4.08 at the time of the injury, which was especially aggravating  since it occurred during interleague play while Wang ran the bases. It's no secret that the loss of Wang contributed to the Yankees missing out on the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Something was wrong from the get-go when Wang returned in 2009. His hard biting sinker was missing its sting and he was hammered by the Yankees' opponents. Wang would finish 1-6, 9.64 in 12 games (9 starts), but none of that mattered compared to the pain in Wang's right shoulder. Initially diagnosed as a strain, Wang underwent surgery in July, 2009 for a torn capsule in the shoulder.

Elbow surgery was once thought of as career ending, but the advent of Tommy John surgery turned that prognosis upside down. Shoulder surgeries are another matter though - ask Michael Pineda how worried he is about the future of his career. Wang missed the entire 2010 season, but signed with the Washington Nationals prior to the following season.

The "Wanger" returned to the Majors on July 29, 2011, exactly two years to the day after his surgery. The Mets knocked him around in four innings, but Wang's shoulder passed the test. He finished 4-3, 4.04 in 11 starts and had the second best WHIP (1.283) of his career.

Wang's 2012 season didn't go too smoothly; a bad hamstring and strained hip limited him to five starts and five relief appearances, and no new contract this winter. The Wanger is hoping that changes shortly, maybe in a return to the pinstripes.

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