Johnson says Chien-Ming Wang could miss a month

VIERA, Fla. - Chien-Ming Wang has been making improvements since suffering a left hamstring strain last Thursday, but his manager doesn't think the veteran right-handed pitcher will be able to return to the mound for about a month.

Davey Johnson said today that while optimistic reports have Wang able to return in two weeks, he feels that the 31-year-old hurler will need more time than that, increasing his chances of opening the regular season on the DL.

"They're being optimistic - two weeks - but he's got a lot of bleeding in there," Johnson said. "He's moving around walking good, but from what I saw today, he's got quite a bit of blood in there. Before he gets on the mound, I'd say three weeks, maybe a month. I'd have to double-check with the doctor, but I saw a lot of blood in there."

The blood that Johnson is referring to is as a result of the hamstring strain, and has apparently spread across the back of Wang's leg.

Wang told reporters that he plans on throwing a little bit tomorrow, but there's a big difference between playing catch and being able to get on a mound and let loose. As much as Wang might push to return quickly, the Nationals will continue to take things easy with him and force him from ramping up his rehab until he's fully healthy.

"He's too valuable to come back in two weeks and start throwing," Johnson said. "He can throw, but I don't see him getting on the mound."

Wang has been spending hours in the training room every day - a room that he's come to know quite well from his months upon months of shoulder rehab here in Viera - and seems to be pleased with his progress. Still, with the righty's injury history and the Nats having plenty of starting pitching depth, Johnson feels Wang won't be on the mound for a little while.

"He was cheerful and walking around, but I think two weeks is a little optimistic," Johnson said. "Maybe it's more of a bruise, but usually when you pull your hammy and it bleeds like that, it's more serious."

With opening day two weeks from tomorrow, it appears very unlikely that Chien-Ming Wang will be in uniform with the Nationals when they kick off the season in Wrigley Field.

I guess it's a good thing that John Lannan feels like he's starting to get into a bit of a groove.

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