Chien-Ming Wang faced hitters today for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury during a spring training outing on March 15, and the reports on Wang out of the Nationals' complex in Viera, Fl. were positive.
Wang threw 35 pitches today, and manager Davey Johnson said the veteran right-hander threw well and came out feeling healthy.
"Really good, hard sink," Johnson said. "Had a great curveball, which, we saw that in the Yankee (game) his last outing before he hurt his hammy. But I knew his arm strength was going to be good."
Wang will now begin a rehab assignment, although it hasn't yet been determined at which affiliate he'll make his first start. He'll take the mound in five days and is scheduled to throw three innings, Johnson said.
Once a pitcher begins a rehab assignment, he has 30 days to rejoin the major league team, and if he's not ready at that point, must be put back on the DL. Johnson said that even though Wang's hamstring injury was moderate and he is allowed 30 days, he likely will be ready to return to the Nationals prior to that deadline.
"I actually don't think he's going to need all 30," Johnson said. "His arm's been made so much progress from last September. He was ahead of that just reporting to spring training, and like I said, I think he'd going to be close to what he was before he hurt his shoulder."
As for what will happen on the Nats pitching staff once Wang returns, the most likely scenario still has Ross Detwiler moving to the bullpen with Wang taking over the No. 5 spot in the rotation. But that decision won't be made until Wang is closing in on a return, and even then, Johnson said that he wants no part of that tough call.
"That's going to be a (Mike) Rizzo problem," Johnson said with a smile.
Meanwhile, Johnson revealed that reliever Brad Lidge has been suffering from vertigo the last week.
Lidge told Johnson prior to last night's game - in which the right-hander earned a save in a rocky ninth inning - that he was OK to pitch, and then woke up this morning feeling fine.
Vertigo is essentially a case of severe dizziness which is caused by problems in the inner ear.
"If you've ever had vertigo, it's something you don't want," said Johnson, who joked that he's had every malady there is. "Can't hardly walk a straight line."