Despite the 8-5 loss to the New York Mets Friday, manager Davey Johnson came away impressed with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang and his debut with the Washington Nationals.
What may be more amazing is that we are even talking about Wang pitching again in the major leagues after such a serious shoulder surgery and an extended rehabilitation process.
"I thought he threw the ball pertly," Johnson said. "In that first inning, he got the ball up and he (had to face) some good hitters in the lineup. They didn't try to do too much with it. They just hit little soft line drives."
Wang admitted being a little nervous for his first opportunity to pitch in the major leagues in over two years. Johnson noticed Wang wasn't getting as much movement on his breaking pitches as he would have preferred, but he likened that to a pitcher's first game out of spring training.
"I don't think his arm is fully strong," Johnson said. "Some of his breaking balls were not breaking too good. I liked the way he threw. If he didn't have the rough first inning where he threw a lot of pitches I would have probably gone another inning with him. I know he gave up some runs but I felt it was a good outing."
Johnson confirmed Wang would make his next start and remains in the rotation. He threw 60 pitches, 39 for strikes, surrendering eight hits in four innings.
Through the Mandarin interpreter, Wang said he "felt fine", but admitted he needed to get his pitches down in the zone in the four-run first inning and was a "little bit out of control."
But to see Wang on the mound in a major league game is not small feat, especially since the injury to his shoulder was considered was likened to a football shoulder injury, which took much longer to rehabilitate. Wang last pitched in the majors on July 4, 2009.
"It is unbelievable the dedication he had to get to this point," Johnson said. "Two years and most of (the rehabbing) has been building up (strength) in his arm. He threw strikes, that was great. My main concern was him coming out of there healthy. He said he was feeling okay and he could have continued. I wanted to err on the safe side."