Johnson on Chien-Ming Wang: “He’s back”

VIERA, Fla. - Both right-hander Chien-Ming Wang and manager Davey Johnson were pleased with the two-inning effort turned in by the Nationals starter during a minor league intrasquad game this afternoon.

“I liked what I saw,” Johnson said. “He’s obviously stronger than last year, even in his warm-ups. He looks like the old Chien-Ming.”

Wang, who had been dealing with some stiffness in his throwing shoulder, allowed one unearned run in his two innings of work. He gave up three hits - a triple by center fielder Brian Goodwin, a double by left fielder Randolph Oduber and a single by catcher Cole Leonida - and struck out three.

The righty threw 31 pitches, 24 for strikes.

Wang sat in the 87-89 mph range, and topped out at 91. He mixed in a handful of curveballs, which was unexpected, but showed that he felt both comfortable and strong enough go to a pitch that he hasn’t used much in the past and is still developing.

“Overall, I feel pretty good,” Wang said through interpreter John Hsu. “Arm strength is pretty good. I tried to get myself in a game situation. The breaking ball obviously was a little bit high, but I need to make an adjustment on that.”

Wang made 11 starts for the Nats at the end of last season following a lengthy recovery from a torn shoulder capsule, going 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA. Much like Stephen Strasburg - who said yesterday that he feels stronger now than he did when he returned from injury late in the 2011 season - Wang believes he’s in a better place now than he was last September.

“I feel better today compared to last season, because during the offseason I worked out and tried to build up my arm strength,” Wang said. “I think I feel better right now.”

The plan now is for Wang to make his Grapefruit League debut this Saturday in the home half of a split-squad game against the Mets.

“What I’m seeing now, I’ve kind of got him in that Strasburg mode: He’s back,” Johnson said. “Now it’s just giving him as much work as he needs to get ready for the opening of the season. But I was very pleased, and more importantly, he felt real good.”

Dan Kolko was named’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.

Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko

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