Chien-Ming Wang unlikely to be ready for Opening Day

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The good news for Chien-Ming Wang is that what initially looked like a serious leg injury suffered during yesterday’s game turned out to be merely a strained hamstring.

The bad news is that manager Davey Johnson said today that he expects Wang to be out of action for “a couple weeks minimum.”

That will make it all but impossible for Wang to begin the season in the Nationals’ rotation, as he won’t have built up the necessary arm strength and pitch count even if he somehow returns to the mound sooner than expected.

By resisting the urge to trade John Lannan the Nationals have a capable fill-in waiting to replace Wang, but he was finally starting to look somewhat like his old self three years after shoulder surgery.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.