Chien-Ming Wang makes a change, Cole Kimball throws heat, Ross Detwiler looks good
Before Bryce Harper stole the spotlight at the Nationals' workout this morning, three things stood out about the morning bullpen sessions. As always, we'll make the disclaimer that we're talking about February bullpen sessions, here. But, anyway, here goes:
*Little by little, even after he said he didn't think it wouldn't happen, Chien-Ming Wang is showing signs he could be ready by the start of the regular season. Wang, still recovering from major shoulder surgery he underwent in July 2009, threw another bullpen session this afternoon.
Wang looked strong for the second straight session, this time incorporating a mechanical change. After looking at film with pitching coach Steve McCatty, Wang changed the positioning of his arm during his delivery. Wang has a tendency to bring his elbow too high, which throws his body out of whack.
Today, he pitched "in a more athletic position," McCatty said. "He keeps getting better. He did a good job."
*The most-talked about pitcher of the spring so far is probably reliever Cole Kimball. He arrived at 5 a.m. the first day of pitchers and catchers, and ever he's been throwing smoke. Kimball is listed at 6 feet, 3 inches and 225 pounds, but he sure looks bigger. He's hit 98 miles per hour with his fastball, and he pairs it with a nasty slider that moves like a splitter. He threw a bullpen session today, and you may have heard the catcher's mitt popping from D.C. McCatty has stopped trying to get him to hold back - there's no point.
"He's a monster," McCatty said. "You tell them to start warming up, and he throws one 95. He grips it and rips it. He's like the John Daly of pitchers."
Kimball started last season, his second as a reliever, in Class A Potomac and reached Class AA Harrisburg early in the year, posting a 2.17 ERA in 57 total games. Then he went to the Arizona Fall League and allowed one earned run and struck out 15 in 12 innings. Kimball has all his minor league options remaining, which means he would have to blow away the Nationals to have any shot to make the opening day roster - and even then, it might be tough for him. Plan on seeing Kimball in Washington some time this year, just not at the start.
*Ross Detwiler, the sixth overall pick of the 2007 draft, has altered his mechanics, throwing more in line rather than bringing his front leg over his back leg during his delivery. The change is noticeable, and Nationals officials agree that it's made a significant difference in his pitches. One of them called Detwiler, "the best guy out here wearing a uniform."
When a reporter suggested to McCatty that Detwiler has looked good, he offered a reminder that only batters will determine that. "Nobody has any wood yet," he said. Meaning bats.
| February 21, 2011; 5:50 PM ET
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