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Day One notes

Well, Day One of spring training 2010 is wrapping up. And I just filed a story on Chien-Ming Wang, the pitcher whose news conference seemed more like an exercise in international relations. Three more semi-extraneous things to note, perhaps deserving of their own bullet points for emphasis.

* In the days before the Wang signing, team President Stan Kasten actually paid a visit to the Taiwan's de facto embassy, simply for the purpose of, as he put it, "beginning the relationships, learning more, getting my facts straight." This afternoon, Kasten actually had in his pocket a pamphlet entitled, "Republic of China at a Glance."

* Wang has spent the last weeks at a physical rehab center in Phoenix, but he spent a part of his offseason in Taiwan. But get this -- Wang still commuted back to the U.S. for monthly visits with orthopedist James Andrews. According to Wang's agent, Adam Nero, Wang would hang with Andrews for roughly a week, then go back home. Two conclusions to draw here: Wang must be seriously accustomed to jet lag. And Andrews must be seriously better than any doctor within 12 time zones.

* Now, let me present something in the avert-your-eyes category. Sorry to bring this up, and yeah, I know that CMW's struggles last season were somehow connected (we hope) to injuries. But just to underscore the point, he was bad. He went 1-6 in '09 with a 9.64 ERA. That was the poorest among 452 big leaguers who threw at least 25 innings last year. Second-poorest? Washington's Logan Kensing, 8.92.

Some additional notes...


Pitcher Collin Balester has surrendered his old uniform number, 40, to CMW. But he also received some consolation. The mustachioed Balester, after an offseason of twitter-documented facial hair growth, asked to wear uniform number 99. "In 2009 I was denied," Balester said. "But I've got the mustache -- or the mus-stature now." Balester pondered his invented word and added, "I could clean out my Scrabble rack with that."


Ross Detwiler, the 23-year-old former first-round draft pick, began his 2010 season with a setback that outweighs the promise he showed in 2009. Monday, he had hip surgery. He won't be able to return to competitive pitching for three months. The Washington Nationals had hoped for a breakout season from Detwiler, but now, they have attracted one plaguing question. Namely, why did Detwiler only have surgery to repair a nagging injury just as spring training started?

According to team officials, Detwiler said nothing about his injury earlier in the offseason. Detwiler never complained to the team medical staff about soreness last season, and he had a clean bill of health when he packed up last October for the offseason.

"My understanding is, this is the first time he ever said a word about it. When Detwiler said it, it was news to us," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "So they went and checked it out. I'm guessing... but I think he probably has been feeling something for a while and thought, 'Well, I'm all right.' As athletes you just figure, 'Oh, this is nothing; I'll get through this.' And it probably was nagging, and when he got here and it was still nagging. And then he went into the trainer and said, 'This doesn't feel good.' And it was a fairly serious problem, and it had to be alleviated. Obviously if he had said in October or November that my hip hurts, it would have been checked out.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2010; 5:19 PM ET
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Next: From Viera, Day II


Here's hoping the Nats FO didn't overpay for CMW. I guess we won't know that until the end of the season.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | February 19, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I saw CMW in Oakland right before he went on the DL - he was in fact, avert-your-eyes awful. When he left the game early I wasn't sure if the manager just pulled him or if he was injured (hard to tell from the stands). His velocity was not there, and he could not put the ball where he wanted it. It looked like he was throwing softballs. That said, he was so lights out the previous seasons, if he returns to form, the Nats will be really lucky. An almost sure win every time he is starting.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | February 19, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Stan went to the embassy of Taiwan to get his facts striaght? Stan Kasten? Facts? Straight facts none the less, in the same sentence?! How unusual.

Wang is smart enough to try to impress the doctor whom the 30 baseball teams in North America look to first, not some guy on the far side of the Pacifc Rim.

Hope he bled all of the awful out last year. Yikes.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 19, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I would be interested to know whether anyone thinks all the screwing around with Detwiler's delivery the past couple years has any connection to the hip labral tear.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | February 19, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Umm, Chico, since you'll be working the Pacific Rim beat, you're gonna need to know this.

Taiwan, or the Republic of China, as some people like to call them, does not have an Embassy in the US.

Embassies are technically the sovereign territory of the country that they represent. The US does not recognize the RoC as a country. Therefore, they can not grant sovereign land to the RoC. From the US Department of State website: "The U.S. maintains unofficial relations with the people on Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation, which performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts."

Posted by: swang30 | February 19, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Oops, wrong name. The AIT is the US not-so-consular-mission in Taiwan. The Taiwanese call their not-so-consular-mission in the US "Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office"...

Posted by: swang30 | February 19, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Should CMW not come back from the injury/surgery this year, he just becomes a 'sunk cost' for the Nationals; It's not like that hasn't happened before. But if he does come back, the Nationals have a bona-fide top-end SP under control for two years, and the attention of Taiwan ex-pats locally (& satTV subscribers back home); It's still a very good gamble by Rizzo, imo.

Posted by: BinM | February 19, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

He said "Wang"...sorry, is too late now?

Posted by: boricuabopper | February 19, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

The question (in my mind, at least) is what corresponding roster move was made to create room for Chien-Ming Wang? Did the Nationals DFA another pitcher off the 40-man, or move someone to the DL-60 list (JZimm)?

Posted by: BinM | February 19, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree BinM. Nice gamble. Guy has very legit upside and at a relatively small cost.

I am optimistic about the club and I think that there are guys who will really deliver this year: in particular, Morgan, Dukes, Willingham, Guz, Lannan and Capps.

I just so very much wish the club had the will to add a piece or two which are a lot less a gamble and a lot more a lock.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 19, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I would think that the roster move to make is to put Detwiler on the 60 days DL.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 19, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

And yes, I agree that the CMW signing is an excellent gamble. If he has setbacks in his rehab and does next to nothing this year, they can, if they want, have him next year pretty cheap (he can't be awarded a big salary in arbitration), and he'll be super-motivated since he'll be a free agent at after the close of 2011.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 19, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse


The corresponding move is JZimm to the 60-day. I don't remember where I read that. I think from Zuckerman.

Posted by: swang30 | February 19, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I just so very much wish the club had the will to add a piece or two which are a lot less a gamble and a lot more a lock.
Posted by: dfh21 | February 19, 2010 6:43 PM
dfh: So does well over half of the fanblogs out there, I'm guessing. The only exceptions might be the Mariners, Rays, Twins, & Phillies.

Posted by: BinM | February 19, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

From Mark Zuckerman (apparently still our best source for info out of Viero).

Note -- To make room for Wang on the 40-man roster, the Nats placed Jordan Zimmermann on the 60-day DL. Zimmermann, who had Tommy John surgery last summer, won't be ready to return to the majors until August at the earliest.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 19, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

@swang30: It was Zuckerman - thanks.

Posted by: BinM | February 19, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: I'm probably getting w-a-a-y ahead of myself, but if CMW doesn't show any 'bounce-back' this season, the Nationals have a number of options available: 1) Release him in-season (2010), 2) Keep him, but non-tender him at the end of the year, 3) Hold onto his rights by tendering him, but offer a reduced base salary for 2011 (as low as $1.6M, or 20% max reduction).
If he manages to re-capture even 80% of his 2006-07 form, they can 4) re-sign him, 5) offer an extension, or 6)tender him & offer arbitration, if needed.

There may be a couple of other options that I missed, but that's a fair capsule; BTW, additional hat-tip to you on the roster move.

Posted by: BinM | February 19, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

BinM: Other than the clubs you listed, the O's, Braves, A's, Chi Sox, Rangers, Brewers, Blue Jays and Angels. Not to mention the Mets, Yanks and Sox with big FA inkings.

No club needed to add more solid performers than the Nats, at least arguably. But the off season has meant ONE reliable performer (Marquis) being added to the roster. Somehow, Nats management still thinks it's OK to roll the dice on as many guys as they can, hoping that a handful hit and make them look smart.

Small market thinking by small minded execs in a more than small market market.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 19, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Ha. I guess I included the Yanks in the list of clubs adding players by force of habit as they have been relatively quiet actually. For once in a generation.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 19, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Check out this splendid sign of things to come. I'd love to pencil this guy in as our right fielder for the next 15 years.

Posted by: Drew8 | February 20, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Question maybe for Swang30: it's all well and good that Stan has visited Taiwan's equivalent of an embassy here, and presumably Taiwanese living in area will be stoked to see him, but what about all the people from mainland China living in DC area? Is there a chance that Nats can cultivate their support of CMW to anywhere the level of interest in, say, basketball star Yao Ming? Or will CMW's identification with Taiwan rather than mainland China temper their enthusiasm?
Of course, mainlanders know much less about baseball than basketball, but this is a promoting and educating job that should be right up Stan's alley. Maybe he should pay a visit also to the PRC embassy complex on International Drive & have his marketing team start contacting all the Chinese schools, churches, etc. here.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | February 20, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chico, after you stop in at Panera, head next door to World of Beer. Pretty cool place...

Posted by: ryan_temp | February 20, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I was kinda aware of Wang's bad year already (you can't help but hear about it when it's a Yankees player), but thanks for providing the gory details, Chico.

ahhh, Panera. I think that my hubby and I may hit them at some point today, 222, but not sure just when it might be, as we have multiple errands today. Whenever it is, I will hoist a virtual toast (the beverage, not the bread) to you and the Nats. Cheers.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 20, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

You guys and Panera? Isn't there any place else? How-z-about Cinnabon ... (ewwww nasty).

Maybe, in Rizzo's mind if he can cobble together enough of these guys he can create enough interest and use them in trades.

Have to wonder if that might be next for Detwiler, Chico, and perhaps even Wang if he recovers sufficiently?

I sure hope Trevor Holder has a good year in the minors. They are going to need him.

Posted by: periculum | February 20, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse


I recall that was a sore spot with Taiwan when Nixon (I think) did that to them. In order to get things rolling with mainland China.

No embassy for Taiwan. They also lost their seat as one of the big 5 (defense council?) of the UN.

Posted by: periculum | February 20, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Man, I'd love to see Ballester make it in the bigs.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 20, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

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