Chien-Ming Wang back to Nationals for $4 million

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The Nationals and right-hander Chien-Ming Wang have agreed to terms on a deal worth $4 million, pending a physical, says CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman.

It’s a larger-than-anticipated guarantee for the sinkerballer, who has made all of 20 starts the last three years. The contract will include incentives based on games started.

After pitching half-seasons in 2008 and 2009 and missing all of 2010 due to shoulder woes, Wang returned in the second half of 2011 to go 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts with the Nationals. He struck out just 25 in 62 1/3 innings during that span, but even though his velocity was down, his groundball rate was still among the best in the league. 53 percent of the balls hit against him were kept on the ground. For comparison’s sake, only 11 of the 94 pitchers to qualify for the ERA title did better, with Jake Westbrook leading the majors at 59 percent.

Wang will be part of a Nationals rotation also certain to include Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. John Lannan would be another given unless he’s traded, which would be a possibility if the Nationals sign another free-agent starter this winter. Ross Detwiler has to be the current favorite among the in-house candidates to round out the group.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.