Associated Press photo
Chien-Ming Wang tumbles after racing to beat the Yankees' Russell Martin to first base.
Wang's injury was initially announced as a left hamstring strain, but the veteran hurler underwent more tests (including an MRI) later, the results of which should be revealed this morning.
Members of the Nationals organization are holding out hope the injury is not serious but are prepared to be told Wang will miss considerable time after hurting himself in freakish fashion.
Wang was cruising along in his second Grapefruit League start of the spring, striking out four of the first 10 batters he faced, when Martin tapped a slow roller between the mound and first base. Wang scooped up the ball and then continued running toward the bag, attempting to complete the unassisted groundout, but he appeared to trip near the dirt-grass cutout near the base.
Wang tried to keep his balance but in doing so may have gotten the spikes on his left shoe caught in the dirt, hyper-extending his knee in the process. He tumbled as he arrived at the base, though he did manage to get his foot down in time to retire Martin, who leaped over the pitcher trying to avoid contact. Though Wang quickly was back on his feet, he was limping as he was helped off the field by Nationals head trainer Lee Kuntz.
Even if the injury proves not to be serious, Wang could still have a tough time making the Opening Day roster. Given how cautious the Nationals have been with the Taiwanese hurler as he attempts to make a full comeback from major shoulder surgery in 2009, the club likely won't let him take the mound for his next scheduled start (Tuesday against the Mets).
Wang would then have only 16 days to get healthy before the April 5 season opener in Chicago, though as the Nationals' No. 5 starter he wouldn't need to pitch until April 10 or 11 in New York.
If Wang is unable to avoid the disabled list, the Nationals are well-positioned to replace him in their rotation with John Lannan, who appeared to be the odd man out of the club's overcrowded rotation. General manager Mike Rizzo has fielded calls from several other teams interested in acquiring the 27-year-old lefty, but Rizzo was reluctant all along to trade Lannan for anything less than a significant return, knowing he might well need another starter in case of injury.