VIERA, Fla – Washington Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a left hamstring strain in the third inning of the Nat 8-5 loss to the New York Yankees at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
Wang suffered the injury when with one out; Russell Martin hit a slow ground ball between the mound and first base. Wang moved off the mound and made a play on the ball and as he picked it up and continued toward the bag, he lost his balance, took two awkward steps, appeared to roll his ankle and then he fell to the ground.
Wang was slow to get up and trainer Lee Kuntz and manager Davey Johnson immediately came out of the dugout to check on him before he had to leave the game.
“He’s got a slight pull and he is getting further test,” Johnson said. “I could tell right away when he got up and he was limping, that was it for him. I hope it’s not serious. He has thrown the ball exceptionally well, I like what I was seeing and really reaffirmed that he is back.”
Wang has worked very hard to battle back from a series of injuries over the past few years.
In 2008 with the Yankees, he suffered a serious foot injury in a game at Minute Maid Park against the Astros during inter-league play and then in 2009, a shoulder injury kept him out nearly two seasons.
In fact, Johnson was asked before the game if he felt Wang could fully return to the form that made him a 19-game winner twice in the big leagues.
“You could have said last year he was 25 percent below what he was when he was in his prime,” Johnson said. “What I’ve seen so far, he’s cut whatever that was, whatever number you want to put on that, he’s cut that in half.”
Wang was in line to be the Nationals fifth starter in the rotation and there have been trade rumors surrounding John Lannan all spring but if Wang is down for any length of time, Lannan would likely move into that fifth starter slot.
“You hope it’s nothing serious,” the skipper said. “He’s having a great spring and he’s worked hard to come back to where he is and I’d hate to see something like this set him back.”
Chad Tracy was playing first base for the Nationals and he gave his view of the play.
“I saw him roll his ankle first,” Tracy said. “Then when he made his next step it looked like he hyper-extended something. It all happened real fast but it didn’t look natural. It was just one of those in-betweeners. He was going to take it and go on to the bag, I was there in case it got by him.”
“It’s one of those things you work on in spring training all the time and it’s really not the way you draw that one up. I just hope he’s alright.”
So do the Nationals who have seen Wang’s work ethic, put to the test as he has tried to bounce back and recover from his recent injuries. Tracy says it is unfortunate because Wang did everything right on the play.
“The only other play was to run by it and let me get it and toss it to him. He came up with the ball so he made the right play it’s just that something happened in between him getting from the ball to the bag.”
Nats fall in game
The Yankees won the game 8-5 to improve to 6-8 in Grapefruit League while the loss dropped the Nats to 5-6.
Michael Pineda had a solid outing for the Bronx Bombers going 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out four.
The Yankees got two RBI each from Bill Hall and Jose Gil.
Adam LaRoche and Jhonatan Solano each had RBI doubles for the Nationals. LaRoche went 1-for-2 with a run scored and two walks. Chad Tracy had a 2-f0r-5 afternoon with two runs scored. Steve Lombardozzi was 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Morse still ailing
Nationals outfielder Michael Morse will miss at least a couple of more days as he continues to deal with a strained right lat muscle.
Morse has been able to take batting practice but the strain has pushed back his throwing.
“It’s a slow process, I’m slowly getting better and there is no reason to rush,” Morse said.
He had been able to DH twice since the injury and while he was very vague on his progress he did say, “I am going through my normal stuff and DH is the only thing I can do now but I am going to just slow down and let it heal.”
The Nationals travel to Tampa Friday to take on the Yankees at 1:05. The Nationals will start left-hander Gio Gonzalez and he will oppose CC Sabathia.