According to Jayson Stark from ESPN.com, free agent pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is reconsidering his plan not to return from shoulder surgery until a couple of months into the season.
Wang’s agent Alan Nero is now saying that four or five teams are currently pursuing Wang more aggressively than they both expected. This now means that the 29-year-old right hander could sign before spring training if a team steps in and makes an offer that Wang can’t say no to.
A team that could find Wang appealing would be our New York Mets, whose starting pitching options are dwindling with spring training knocking on the door. The Mets, who are also looking at John Smoltz and Braden Looper, have also been monitoring Wang’s progress very closely, but would probably prefer to sign a pitcher who can pitch a full season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are another team expressing great interest, and have recently watched Wang throw at the Fischer Training Facility in Arizona.
Since a firm date has not yet been made for Wang’s return, clubs have been proceeding slowly with offers, and that seemed to be fine with Wang and his agents, who have been marketing him mostly as an early-to-mid-season option, like Pedro Martinez.
“Our plan was to get him 100 percent healthy, so there was no risk on the team’s part,” Nero said. “And that’s still our plan, and we’re following it. But we didn’t expect teams to be coming forward with offers, and that’s what’s happening.”
Nero says that Wang is throwing pain free, but is still two to four weeks behind where he would normally be this close to spring training. He is on a path to make a major league start sometime in the first two weeks of May.
Clubs that have monitored Wang sounded more skeptical about that prognosis and so do I. It seems like he has recovered at a rapid pace which means rushing his return could risk yet more health issues.
Lets remember that Wang missed the second half of the 2008 season with a foot injury. Then, his 2009 season was derailed by shoulder issues. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder capsule on July 29.
At this point the Mets probably should take a shot, but undertaking another injury prone player would add more stress to an already battered Mets medical team still struggling to find some cohesion and credibility.