A crowd for CMW
OK, so the Chien-Ming Wang press conference is over. The fishwrap story (posted here later this afternoon) will contain greater detail, but here are the quick-hit observations. First of all, CMW attracts plenty of attention. Roughly twenty media members representing Taiwan and China were in attendance, and let me tell 'ya, it's not easy work traveling halfway across the world for a 20-minute press and perhaps a dinner at Smokey Bones. They asked a lot of questions about his desire and his condition, and Wang pretty much answered that his desire is intense and his condition is good. Which means that maybe he's pitching in Washington by May.
Wang agreed earlier in the week to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Nats (the contract is heavily loaded with incentives), but this was his formal introduction. And it was also something of a goodbye.
See, after today, Wang, still rehabbing from July 2009 shoulder surgery, will return to the Fischer Sports Physical Therapy center in Phoenix, Ariz. According to GM Mike Rizzo, Wang will perform five or six hours of rehab daily. March 8, he'll travel back to Viera, Fla., to join the Nats in spring training. The Nats hope that Wang can debut (or re-debut) in the big leagues sometime between May 1 and June 1.
Before signing Wang, Washington had three scouts -- Jay Robertson, Phil Rizzo and Ron Schueller -- watch the righty in Arizona. "The last time they saw him pitch he threw for 15 minutes, about 70 pitches," Mike Rizzo said. "He started at about 120 feet and he went down to 60-feet, six inches. That was on flat ground."
But within the next 2-1/2 weeks, Wang should begin throwing off a mound.
"Of course my No. 1 goal would be to return to be among the best pitchers in Major League Baseball," Wang said through translator Alan Chang, "and I will do everything possible to make myself strong again."
Just a few final quotes before I head to lunch.
Rizzo on his hopes for CMW: "Well if he throws as he's capable of in the past, then we've got ourselves a front-of-the-rotation guy. Not only for two-thirds of this season, but we control the player. That is something we're really, really excited about, and that's the main reason we went after him so hard, is because he's a 29-year-old pitcher who can grow with the organization. Just a front-of-the-line character guy that's won 19 games in the toughest atmosphere for a pitcher in baseball. So we feel like the risk-reward was on our side, and combined with the medical reports we got... it was something I thought we really needed to do."
Agent Alan Nero: "When Chien-Ming became available, the first team we heard from was the Nationals. And shortly after that we started hearing from other teams. There was a total of 15 teams that showed interest right from the beginning. But the process was pretty laborious. Everybody had to do their homework: Who had to see him throw? Who had to have their doctor examine him? You know, who had to study his medical records? So, in the end, we ended up with three offers. But the Nationals were the most sincere, they were the most aggressive, they were ahead of the pack. They did all of their due diligence and were very confident along the way... And any time you make a decision -- this was a big decision for Chien-Ming -- the spirit of it matters. It's kind of like dating. You don't enter into a relationship unless you feel real good about it... The Nationals seemed to care the most and they seemed to want him the most."
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