Rizzo talks Wang decision and offensive woes (plus game update)

By now, you know that when Chien-Ming Wang returns from his rehab assignment, he’s likely to slide into the Nationals’ bullpen, with Ross Detwiler remaining in the rotation.

That news was passed along by manager Davey Johnson, but general manager Mike Rizzo also discussed the decision this evening, saying Wang is completely healthy and nearly ready to return.

“He’s pitching today and we’ll see how that works out, Rizzo said. “Probably at first, initially put him in the bullpen because Detwiler is just throwing too well not to be in the rotation, and tweak that bullpen a bit.

“It’ll give Davey his long righty that he so covets and it’ll give (Craig) Stammen maybe some more important leverage innings. I think it’ll improve our bullpen and keep him stretched out in case we need another starter. We’ll have depth with him and (John) Lannan in Triple-A.”

rizzo sunglasses sidebar.jpgWhile Wang will pitch on a starter’s schedule while in the bullpen, meaning he’ll go pretty much every fifth day, the Nationals are open to using the veteran righty in relief even if it’s not his scheduled day to pitch.

That could be tricky considering Wang’s extended warm-up routine and his history of shoulder injuries, but it’s something the team will likely be forced to do from time to time.

“Those schedules are obviously all tentative, and when needs arise, he’ll have to be put into a more regular bullpen role,” Rizzo said. “But I like keeping him stretched out because he’s definitely an option for us as a starter, if we need one. I definitely think we need to keep him stretched out and pitching on a regular rotation in the bullpen until things dictate that we have to break the mold and do something more specifically.”

Rizzo was asked about the Nats’ offensive issues, which are still apparent even though they’ve improved at the plate this month.

“We hope guys get hot and get better and play better and swing the bats better and be more efficient offensively,” Rizzo said, “doing the little things to generate runs and to really maximize all the chances that we’ve had. We’ve had plenty of opportunities, it’s just that we have to execute offensively better. Man on third, less than two outs, you’ve got to put the ball in play. You can’t strike out. You’ve got to drive a run in, be it with a hit or without a hit, you’ve got to drive a run in.

“We recognize it and the players recognize it and we need to improve the plan at the plate that we have and the execution of the plan.”

Update: The Nats had one scorching-hot center fielder (Andrew McCutchen) leave town a couple days ago. They have to deal with another one this weekend.

Adam Jones is on an absolute tear right now, and he carried his strong play into tonight, going 2-for-2 through the first three innings, including a two-run bomb to deep left in the third. He’s extended his hitting streak to 11 games and his homer gave the O’s a 4-0 lead.

On the day we learned of the Nats’ plans for Wang, Detwiler hasn’t turned in his best performance. He’s been hit plenty hard and finds himself in a hole here in the middle innings.

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