Chien-Ming Wang roughed up in first major league start since 2009

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Chien-Ming Wang made his first major league start since July 4, 2009 last night against the Mets and it should come as no surprise that he was pretty shaky out of the gate.

Wang, who has been rehabbing from shoulder surgery for the past two years, gave up six runs (four earned) over four innings as part of an 8-5 loss. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed the first five batters to reach base in the first inning, leading to four runs, though he did settle down a bit from there. All told, he gave up eight hits (all singles) while striking out two and walking one. He threw 39 out of 61 pitches for strikes and induced eight ground balls.

While the results weren’t all that great, Nationals manager Davey Johnson told the Associated Press that he set his expectations pretty low for his Wang’s return.

“I was actually impressed,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “His delivery looked really easy. He had some good velocity on the ball. I was pleased. I really didn’t think I was going to see that much.”

According to Brooks Baseball, Wang averaged 91.75 mph on his fastball last night and topped out at 92.7 mph. He averaged around 93 mph on his fastball during his most productive year with the Yankees back in 2006.

With a throng of media from his native Taiwan tracking his every move, Wang told reporters that he was just happy to get back on a major league mound.

“I feel really happy and then especially during the game,” Wang said through an interpreter. “I feel like I can do it again, come back to the mound, especially it’s been a while, a long time. I was down in Florida rehabbing for almost two years. Right now, I’m back.”

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Johnson said after the game that he believes Wang will stay in the rotation for the rest of the season as long as he continues to make progress. Wang had a 9.64 ERA and 29/19 K/BB ratio in 42 innings with the Yankees before undergoing shoulder surgery in July of 2009, so while it was nice to see him back in the big leagues, he’s far from a lock to be successful.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.