Washington, D.C., May 14 (CNA) Taiwanese pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was impressive again in a rehab start in the minors Monday, but he could still have a hard time squeezing into the Washington Nationals' crowded rotation.
Wang pitched into the ninth inning for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, in a 6-4 win over the Rochester Red Wings, giving up four runs on 11 hits, but only two runs over the first eight innings.
He received a standing ovation when he exited the game with a 6-2 lead and two Red Wings on base.
"I saw him pitch, and he looked awful good," Nationals manager Davey Johnson was quoted as saying by the AP.
"That was a big step in the right direction. It depends how he recovers from that," he added. "The question really comes down to, is he polished off enough to come in and replace one of our starters and give us the same type of effort?"
Wang's performance in Triple-A has not guaranteed him a spot in the Nationals' starting rotation because the club already has five starters who all have ERAs under 4.00 (and four have ERAs under 3.00), and Johnson has said the team does not need a sixth starter.
But the decision of whether to put Wang back in the rotation is up to General Manager Mike Rizzo, Johnson said.
Wang's 30-day rehab period in the minor leagues ends on May 27, at which time the Nationals will have to decide what to do with Wang and make a decision on their rotation.
Trading him will likely not be an immediate option, as the Nationals cannot trade the Taiwanese right-hander without his consent until June 16 because he was signed as a free agent.
There has been some speculation that the team might send Ross Detwiler to the bullpen to open a spot for Wang, but Detwiler's 3-2 record and 2.75 ERA makes such a decision difficult.
Wang is scheduled to pitch his fifth rehab game on May 19 to buy the Nationals more time to consider their options.
(By Tony Liao, Kuo Yi-chieh and Jamie Wang)