US Presswire photo
Chien-Ming Wang last pitched on March 15 against the Yankees.
Manager Davey Johnson said Wang will fly north with the club following Monday's Grapefruit League finale in Fort Myers, though it's yet to be determined if the right-hander will accompany the team to Chicago for Thursday's opener against the Cubs or remain in Washington to continue his rehab.
"I want to see his throwing program and what he's doing up to that point," Johnson said before tonight's game. "Not that much is going to be happening down here anyways. And then we can decide what's best for him to continue his rehab, either out of D.C. or whatever."
Wang strained his hamstring on March 15, trying to make a play at first base, and club officials initially feared the injury was serious. There's still no formal timetable for the right-hander's return, but the Nationals are hoping it may not extend into May.
Because the injury was to his leg, Wang was able to resume a throwing program last week. He played long-toss from up to 300 feet today, and Johnson said "he looked great throwing the ball."
Given that, Wang probably won't need to endure through the kind of complete rehab program pitchers with arm injuries typically experience. He'll still make at least two or three minor-league starts, building up his innings count, but may not need to spend the full 30 days on a rehab assignment.
At the same time, the Nationals insist they won't rush Wang back, taking his shoulder injury history into account.
"We're going to be very cautious with him," Johnson said. "He's a very important cog in what we've got going here. I want to make sure we don't rush him so there's not a setback."
Meanwhile, closer Drew Storen will take another positive step in his recovery from elbow inflammation tomorrow when he throws off a bullpen mound for the first time since he was shut down earlier this month.
"It feels great," said Storen, who will open the season on the DL but is expected to return by mid-April.