The New York Yankees signed a familiar face on Friday, agreeing to a minor league deal with former Yankee SP, Chien-Ming Wang. He will report to AAA to begin the season, but given the lack of depth in the Yankees rotation and injuries that are bound to pop up, Wang will likely be in the big leagues as long as he pitches well in the minors.
A former Yankee, signed as an amateur free agent by the club in 2000, Wang rose through the Yankees system. His jersey number (41) was retired by the Single A Staten Island Yankees in 2006. He made his big league debut for the Yankees in 2005 and went 8-5 with a 4.02 ERA. The next two years he would win 19 games each season (leading the league in wins in 2006).
Wang enjoyed a successful Yankees career until 2008 when he was running the bases during in interleague game in Houston vs the Astros. He injured his right foot and was diagnosed with a torn Lisfranc ligament and partial tear of the peroneus longos in his right foot. The injury, while not surgical, would sideline him the rest of the year. His 2009 season was not much better. He injured his hips and throwing shoulder (which required surgery) and was placed on injured reserve. The Yankees went on to win the World Series without him and released Wang that offseason.
Wang would spend the next three season with the Washington Nationals but never regained the promise that he had when he was with the Yankees. However, he pitched extremely well during this year’s World Baseball Classic, which led New York to give him another shot. Hopefully Wang has put his injury history behind him and can rediscover the talent he once had.