Chien-Ming Wang vows to return by May

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We’re used to hearing your typical New Year’s resolutions. Work out more. Quit smoking. Read more HardballTalk. You know, that kind of thing.

But for Chien-Ming Wang, the goal is simple. He wants to pitch in the majors this upcoming season. According to a report in the China Post, Wang said at a charity drive yesterday he’ll be able to do so “hopefully in May.”

Wang, who turns 31 in March, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since undergoing shoulder surgery in July of 2009. The Nationals signed him a to a one-year, $2 million contract last offseason in hopes that he would be able to make it back at some point during the 2010 season, but he was only able to make a couple appearances for the organization’s Instructional League team in the fall. He recently re-signed a new contract with the Nationals that includes a $1 million base salary and $4 million in performance incentives.

There was a time when Wang’s sinker was one of the most effective pitches in the major leagues, so this is a small price to pay for a chance at a rebound, especially for a rotation that needs all the help they can get.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.