Yanks to skip Wang's start vs. Red Sox
Rainout and off-day Thursday let righty work on mechanics
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have decided to skip the struggling Chien-Ming Wang this weekend, providing the right-hander an opportunity to continue working on his mechanics without taking on an assignment against the Red Sox.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he planned to meet with general manager Brian Cashman on Monday at Yankee Stadium, plotting out the club's upcoming pitching rotation. Given the excuse of a rainout Monday and an off-day Thursday, using the opportunity to bypass Wang was a safe bet.
"The biggest thing is that we get him right," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line, we've got to get this guy right. He's too good of a pitcher to pitch the way he's pitched these three games."
Nothing has come easy for Wang, who served up eight runs for the second successive game in his last start against the Indians. That turned into a 22-4 defeat, and through three starts, Wang has struggled mightily, posting a 34.50 ERA. He has allowed 23 runs on 23 hits in just six innings.
"The confidence is still there," Wang said through an interpreter. "I know what I can do. I just haven't pitched up to my ability yet. Hopefully I can get my groove right."
Wang has been repeatedly asked about his health and insists that he is OK, suffering no after-effects of the right foot injury he suffered running the bases on June 15 at Houston that ended his 2008 season.
"From everything I've seen, he appears to be physically fine," Girardi said. "I asked him about his foot and he said that feels good, too. It's something we have to work through."
Since he is out of options, Wang cannot be sent to the Minor Leagues without exposing him to waivers, where he almost certainly would be claimed by another club. Sooner or later, Wang will head out against a big league team, and the Yankees will have to decide when exactly that will be.
"I think that's a valid question and something we have to weigh," Girardi said. "I believe he's going to fix it. I just do in my heart. We're behind this guy and we need this guy. I really believe that when he makes his next start, it's going to be a good one."
Monday's rainout pushed Andy Pettitte back to Tuesday, with CC Sabathia starting on Wednesday against Oakland. The Yankees announced that their pitching rotation for the weekend at Fenway Park would be Joba Chamberlain on Friday, followed by A.J. Burnett on Saturday and Pettitte on Sunday.
With some time to continue tweaking, Wang has become the top priority for pitching coach Dave Eiland, who has been baffled by the hurler's inability to take his good sinker from side sessions and bullpens into the game. Girardi said that Wang's sinker was actually a little better in the Indians game, not that it helped a whole lot.
"Dave's working his tail off to get that done," Girardi said. "We're just going to continue to try to get it right. We believe that once he's right, he's going to be fine."
"We watched some videos and we looked at some pictures," Wang said through an interpreter. "The coaches were saying that when I pitch, my body was leaning a little bit toward the left side. That could be one of the problems."
There is some solace for Girardi in that Wang struggled mechanically last season, allowing seven runs to the Mets and five runs to the Mariners and Twins in May before correcting himself. Girardi thought that Wang's last game might have been his best, leaving after five scoreless innings against the Astros.
"He went through a tough time last year and got out of that," Girardi said. "He was throwing possibly his best game of the year in Houston after he had went through a tough stretch. We know and believe he's going to come out of it, but right now it's tough on him. I don't see how it couldn't be."
The strangest part for many is that there was no advance warning Wang might do so poorly. He did not appear to struggle in Spring Training, when he was 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in six Grapefruit League starts.
"I wasn't the only one who was in Spring Training," Wang said. "The hitters weren't in as good shape as well. Right now, I guess the hitters found their groove, but not me."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.