Somewhere on a quiet, sun drenched field in Viera, Florida, Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session of 45 pitches. Today’s session will be Wang’s second stint from atop a mound as he attempts to rehab from last season’s shoulder surgery. The Nationals were hoping to have Wang back by June, but the severity of his injury has resulted in a much longer recovery period than first anticipated.
For those with the shortest of memories, it was just over two years ago when Wang sustained a serious foot injury while running the bases during an interleague game against the Astros. At the time of his injury, Wang was 7-2 for the Yankees and perhaps on his way to a third consecutive successful season. In his previous two seasons, Wang won 19 games in each to lead the team. To that point, the Taiwanese groundball machine had compiled an impressive 54-20 record in basically three full seasons worth of games.
Unfortunately for Wang, he never really recovered from his foot injury and after a disastrous brief campaign in 2009 wound up injuring his shoulder as well. That second injury effectively ended Wang’s Yankee career as the team decided to not offer him a contract during the off season, which paved the way for his eventual signing with the Nationals.
Instead of using news of Wang’s slow recovery as a reason to lament the untimely demise of his Yankee career, it’s probably better to look back at his time in pinstripes with appreciation. For starters, Wang’s impressive .679 winning percentage puts him 10th among all Yankee starters with at least 50 decisions and 500 innings pitched. Incredibly, if not for the Yankees ill advised decision to have Wang pitch at the start of last season, his winning percentage would have been .729, good enough for the best mark in team history.
Yankees All-Time Leaders: Winning Percentage
Wang’s somewhat lofty position among all-time great Yankee hurlers is the result of his 2006 and 2007 seasons. Over that span, Wang’s 38 wins lead the entire major leagues and represented the first time a Yankee pitcher had won at least 19 games in consecutive seasons since Tommy John accomplished the feat in 1979 and 1980.
Major League Leaders: Wins, 2006-2007
Although it still seems a shame that Wang’s career was completely derailed by such a simple action as running the bases, he was still able to leave an impressive mark in the history of the sport’s most successful franchise. Hopefully, Wang can make it all the way back to the majors and resume a meaningful career with the Nationals, but if not, his Yankees legacy is secure.