Wang on comeback trail

May, 13, 2009
5/13/09
11:32
AM ET
The bad news: In his Triple-A rehab start Tuesday night, Chien-Ming Wang took a sharp grounder off his calf and left the game with soreness after throwing only 82 pitches. The good news? As Chad Jenning notes, there was plenty:
  Wang
    There was plenty to like about Wang's outing. He struck out six, never allowed an extra-base hit and never let a base runner get past second base. He did walk three and his velocity was down -- he topped out at 93 instead of 95 -- but on the whole, everyone from Cashman to Wang to pitching coach Scott Aldred seemed happy.

    "He got his work in and I don't think he was challenged all that much," Cashman said. "I think he feels real good about the direction he's heading, and I was glad to be able to say that I do too ... He's definitely heading in the right direction. He's much better. He had great mound presence, showed some great tempo. Threw strikes. I thought his slider was terrific. He did a great job. I was concerned when he got hit by that line drive on the meat of the calf. I know he took a pretty good shot there, but I was able to talk to our staff in-game. I came out of the stands and we just watched him inning-by-inning after that. As long as his mechanics were good and it wasn't going to affect him we were going to keep going with him. He got his work in, which was great. Today was a good day.”

    Wang was available to go up to 100 pitches today, but Cashman said he and the coaching staff "called an audible" after that comebacker hit him in the calf. Wang said he was "a little bit sore" and Cashman said after the game, "I'm not worried about it now.”

    --snip--

    Wang said he has happy with the location and movement of his sinker. "More balance," he said was the physical difference between this start and the three in New York.

    "Everything was good," Wang said. "The body feels good.”

    Wang showed an outstanding slider, and while both Aldred and Cashman raved about the pitch, Cashman admitted that he didn't come here to see Wang's slider. He came here to see if Wang had taken steps toward being a 19-game winner again, and clearly he had.

With Alex Rodriguez taking over from Cody Ransom at third base and Melky Cabrera taking over from Brett Gardner in center field, the Yankees have just one terribly glaring weakness: No. 5 starter. Their top four starters are 8-6 with a 4.42 ERA. Not great, but decent enough especially if you believe (as I do) that CC Sabathia (2-3, 3.94) and A.J. Burnett (2-1, 5.36) are both likely to pitch better than they have. The Yankees other starters -- Wang and Philip Hughes -- are 1-5 with a 17.32 ERA.

That does overstate the problem, I think, because Hughes still looks like a pretty good bet in the long run. But it's nice to have six viable options for the rotation, and it sure looks like Wang will become No. 6, soon.

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