Chien-Ming Wang makes first professional start since July of 2009

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Davey Johnson is understandably grabbing most of the headlines at the moment, but another item of significance to the Nationals went down in Hagerstown, Maryland earlier this evening.

Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington reports that Chien-Ming Wang allowed two runs on four hits over three innings in his first minor league rehab start with Class A Hagerstown. On the long road back from shoulder surgery, this was his first professional appearance of any kind since July 4, 2009 as a member of the Yankees.

Wang threw 49 pitches while striking out three, walking none and and hitting a batter. Those numbers don’t tell us much, but one encouraging tidbit is that six of his nine outs were recorded via the groundball.

Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports that the 31-year-old right-hander topped out at 90 mph during tonight’s outing, but mostly sat in the 86-88 mph range. Wang averaged just over 93 mph on his fastball back in 2006, but was at 91.8 mph with his heater in 2008 and 2009.

The Nationals have been extra patient with Wang over the past 17 months, so don’t look for that to change now. He’s going to need to make it through several rehab outings in one piece before having a realistic shot at pitching in the major leagues again.

Jordan Hicks throws 105 MPH twice against Phillies

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One likely wouldn’t guess it based on his strikeout rate, but Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game. The right-hander hit 105 MPH on the radar gun twice during Sunday’s appearance against the Phillies, according to Statcast.

Hicks was asked if he could throw harder than 105 MPH. He said, “I surprised myself yesterday (when he reached (103.8 MPH), I surprised myself today. We’ll see.”

Hicks got the final four outs of Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Phillies. He walked two and struck out one. He carries a 2.05 ERA but has only nine strikeouts and 16 walks in 22 innings this season.