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Chien-Ming Wang is slated to pitch a simulated game Wednesday in Viera.
Wang is scheduled to pitch in a simulated game Wednesday at the Nationals' extended spring training complex in Viera, Fla. Manager Davey Johnson suggested the 32-year-old could start a minor-league game next week, but general manager Mike Rizzo said the rehab process will take longer than that, in part because there's no immediate need for another starter in his rotation right now.
"I think [the current rotation depth] changes it," Rizzo said before tonight's game against the Astros. "We have the luxury, if you will, to really make sure that he's 100 percent healthy and stretched out and that the hammy, we don't re-aggravate it."
Wang hurt himself March 15 trying to make a running play at first base. Club officials initially feared the injury was severe, but Wang was back playing catch within a week, leading the Nationals to believe he might only miss three or four starts to open the season.
Because the injury was to his leg, not his arm, Wang has been able to maintain a throwing program throughout the last month. But he still hasn't pitched three full innings at any point since last season, and the Nationals want him to build up more stamina before activating him off the disabled list.
"I don't think we're starting from Ground Zero right now, but he needs to build up his arm strength again, and his pitch count, and that type of thing," Rizzo said. "Because you don't want to bring him up, and he can only three or four innings. We'd like to ramp him up to where he's felt comfortable throwing 100 pitches."
The plan, according to Rizzo, is for Wang to make pitch in at least two simulated games in Viera, then perhaps begin a minor-league rehab assignment that could last as many as 30 days.
The way he was pitching before suffering the hamstring injury, Wang looked like a key piece to the back end of the Nationals' rotation. But 10 games into the season, they haven't missed his presence at all. Entering play today, they lead all major-league rotations with a 1.75 ERA and rank second with 57 strikeouts.