I just watched Chien-Ming Wang’s latest minor-league rehab start on MLB Network and he looked pretty good, throwing eight innings against the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate.
The bad news is that Wang managed only one strikeout, gave up 11 hits, and allowed four runs.
The good news is that recently demoted big leaguer Danny Valencia’s double was the lone extra-base hit and Wang was cruising along until giving up a handful of hits late. And two of the four runs came in after he exited in the ninth inning.
Another positive sign: Wang induced 14 ground-ball outs against a lineup that featured other ex-major leaguers Ben Revere, Sean Burroughs, J.R. Towles, Matt Carson, Pedro Florimon, Clete Thomas, and Rene Tosoni.
Wang was never a strikeout pitcher and at his best always relied on getting tons of grounders, so it was definitely a positive step for the rehabbing right-hander. However, with Ross Detwiler pitching well as the Nationals’ fifth starter there seemingly isn’t any room for Wang in Washington’s excellent rotation.
Jerome Williams hadn’t pitched a complete game since 2003 before shutting out the Twins on Tuesday. That was humiliating. What followed Wednesday was even more distressing.
Jered Weaver pitched his first no-hitter as the Angels routed the Twins 9-0. It gave the struggling Halos a three-game sweep at home and dropped the Twins to an MLB-worst 6-18 on the season.
The Twins didn’t even seem to be trying Wednesday. Weaver had good stuff, but it’s doubtful he would have no-hit any other lineup tonight. Manager Ron Gardenhire also phoned it in. Even though his top relievers were all rested, he let the game get out of hand before going to the bullpen in the third. He also allowed the same nine players make all 27 outs in the contest.
Of course, his hands were somewhat tied there, what with the Justin Morneau injury and the move to drop Sean Burroughs from the roster to add catching depth in the form of the league’s worst hitter: Drew Butera. The Twins also have Clete Thomas hacking away in right field instead of the superior Ben Revere, who is back in Triple-A.
Minnesota already appears to be pretty much done for in the AL Central, but while selling is option, tradeable assets are few and far between. Francisco Liriano could have been one, but his awful showing thus far is a big reason the team is 6-18. Denard Span is the only piece that figures to fetch much on the market. But while he might bring back a quality young infielder the Twins could use, the future looks pretty bleak at the moment.
After playing every inning of the first 21 games Joe Mauer took a foul ball off his knee and sat out Monday. He returned last night as designated hitter, but the Twins felt the need to add Drew Butera as a third catcher while designating Sean Burroughs for assignment to make room on the roster.
Butera was hitting .279/.319/.419 in 15 games for Rochester, which is simultaneously terrible for a 28-year-old at Triple-A and career-best numbers for arguably the wost hitter in the majors.
Burroughs was signed to a minor-league deal in December and the 30-year-old former top prospect impressed the Twins during spring training, winning an Opening Day bench spot. In theory he was a nice fit, offering a left-handed bat and solid glove at third base to complement and perhaps even push Danny Valencia, but in practice he got three starts and 17 at-bats in a month.
He’s barely played since 2005, let alone had any success, so Burroughs may clear waivers.
Four years after his last minor league appearance and eight years since he last saw the majors, right-hander Dennis Tankersley is attempting a comeback. He signed a minor league deal with the Padres, his former team.
Tankersley was just a 38th-round pick of the Red Sox in 1998, but given his early success, it appalled many when he was traded to San Diego for Ed Sprague two years later. He quickly emerged as a top arm in the San Diego system, going 10-4 with a 1.98 ERA and a 173/44 K/BB ratio in three stops in 2001. Baseball America rated him the franchise’s No. 2 prospect entering 2002, sandwiching him between Sean Burroughs and Jake Peavy.
Unfortunately, Tankersley never could establish himself in the majors. He went 1-4 with an 8.06 ERA in nine starts and eight relief appearances in 2002. In 2003, he had one disastrous appearance with the Padres, giving up seven runs without retiring a batter. He was a bit more successful in 2004, but he still had an 0-5 record to go along with his 5.14 ERA in six starts and three relief appearances. Overall, he was 1-10 with a 7.61 ERA and a 68/61 K/BB ratio in 86 1/3 innings.
After 2004, Tankersley spent four more seasons in Triple-A rotations, never bettering a 4.00 ERA in any of them. He was last seen going 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2008.
Tankersley is still just 33, and if his arm is sound, there’s little harm in giving him a shot. He’ll probably top out in Triple-A again, but with pitchers, one never knows for sure. Just ask the Giants about Ryan Vogelsong.