Nationals add Chien-Ming Wang to rotation

Chien-Ming Wang PC 2.JPGThe Nationals entered the offseason looking for two veteran pitchers to bulk up the starting rotation. Mission accomplished. The Nats have added two proven sinker ball pitchers to the top of their rotation: Jason Marquis in December and Chien-Ming Wang today. They finally made the news from earlier in the week official on a chilly afternoon in Viera at Space Coast Stadium.
The Nats introduced Chien-Ming Wang on the field instead of the small media room to accommodate the large international media contingent–at least 40 people.

The 29-year-old Wang is an extreme sinker ball pitcher and has a career 55-26 record with a 4.16 ERA in 109 games (104 starts) spanning five seasons with the Yankees. He is best known for posting consecutive 19-win seasons for the Yankees in 2006 and ’07. During the same two-year span, Wang led MLB with 38 wins and a .745 winning percentage while pacing the American League with 864 ground balls induced and a 2.9/1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio.

Chien-Ming Wang PC 1.JPGWang was plagued by injuries in 2008 and ’09 and he
still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. The Nationals aren’t worried and hope he can pitch in the Majors by June 1st. They know they took a risk but the rewards could be plentiful. And like Matt Capps, if Wang didn’t struggle in 2009, he wouldn’t have been available in 2010.

Teammates such as pitchers Matt Capps, Tyler Clippard, John Lannan and Collin Balester were all in attendance. Balester gave up his uniform number, 40, to Wang and posted the following tweets on his twitter account here:

“Went to the Wang press conference and got thanked for giving up my number. I got 99 problems but Balester ain’t one hit me.”

“I am Now Number 99”

“Wang will wear #40, Balester #99. Back-story: Wang was assigned #40 by NYY. Prior to his arrival in New York, he hadn’t worn #40.”

You might think of 99 on a baseball uniform the same way you think of 65 on a wide receiver but Manny Ramirez is 99 for the Dodgers. And let’s not forget no one has kept 99 more groovy than Rick “The Wild Thing” Vaughn… then again Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky admirably wore 99 too.

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