Yesterday, Chien-Ming Wang was scheduled to play catch for the first time since leaving his July 4th start with a sore shoulder. His throwing session was cut short due to pain, either in his biceps or shoulder depending upon whose account you're reading. He's now shut down until at least Friday.
This is just the latest in a series of professional misfortunes for Wang, starting with his torn lis franc ligament in Houston last June. Then came the less-than-ideal off-season rehabilitation instructions from the Yankees. After a shaky spring training, Wang opened the season with three historically awful starts. The Yanks found questionable cause to place him on the DL, then completely, totally, and utterly botched his rehab assignment, recalling him in a panic after Joba Chamberlain lasted just two thirds of an inning in his May 21st start, after taking a liner off the leg.
From there, Wang wallowed in mop-up man limbo for two weeks, not effective enough to justify giving him regular work and not working regularly enough to pitch himself back into effectiveness. Placed back into the rotation on June 4th with neither the stamina nor the confidence to do the job properly, Wang turned in six starts that ranged from bad to lackluster, going 1-3 and lowering his ERA to 9.64.
As I said after his shoulder injury, anything the Yanks get from CMW this year has to be considered gravy now. 2009 is a lost cause for him. Even Mr. Optimistic himself seems doubtful of Wang contributing this year, and that may be more telling than any medical report or release point analysis.
Just before the one year anniversary of his initial injury, Jay pondered if that 2008 Fathers' Day game marked the peak of CMW's career. At the time I part thought and mostly hoped that it was premature to even consider that. Now, I think there may be more merit to it.
Sergio Mitre, a fellow sinkerballer, gets his first start for the Yanks tonight. After yesterday's developments, he may find himself in that role for the forseeeable future. Then again, with the non-waiver deadline just 10 days away, he may not be there for long. Who knows. But Wang's latest setback only creates more questions, both for his future and for the state of the Yankee rotation.