WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw a bullpen session in front of manager Davey Johnson at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon. The skipper liked what he saw.
Johnson still doesn't know his plan for the pitcher. There is a strong possibility that Wang could work out of the bullpen. Left-hander John Lannan is still expected to replace Stephen Strasburg in the rotation once the ace is shut down on Sept. 12.
"That's the best I've seen him since the spring. He was outstanding. It was a great 'pen," Johnson said. "I haven't seen him in a while -- three or four months. I don't have to make a decision at this minute. ... He kept the ball down, his velocity is as strong as a bull. He had a good breaking ball, good changeup, good four-seamer, good two-seamer, good command. ... If he was throwing like he was today, it would be off the charts."
Johnson hasn't seen much of Wang because he has missed most of the Major League season due to injuries. The righty started the season on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.
When he returned in May, Wang spent most of the time in the rotation, but was demoted to the bullpen by June after being ineffective. Wang then spent most of the second half of the season on the DL because of a right hip injury.
Wang made 15 Minor League rehab starts and went 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA, but that didn't seem to bother Johnson.
"A lot of it down there is, you try to overthrow. You try to do too much," Johnson said. "When he started his 'pen [on Friday], he was overthrowing, everything. He is a very competitive pitcher, very driven. He settled in and didn't try to overthrow. ... It was off the chart. That can happen."
Nats' Johnson effusive in praise of GM Rizzo
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said general manager Mike Rizzo should win the National League Executive of the Year Award and should have earned the honor last year and the one before that.
Johnson pointed out that Rizzo was able to acquire quality players through trades and the First-Year Player Draft. It was Rizzo who landed left-handed Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics for four prospects. Gonzalez is now a National League Cy Young Award candidate and is tied for the NL lead in wins with 18.
It was Rizzo who selected Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in the First-Year Player Draft, and they have been major contributors to a team that has the best record in baseball.
Johnson also mentioned how the team was able to play well even though it's had it share of injuries. The farm system was strong enough to where Rizzo didn't need to make a deal before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He was able to call up Tyler Moore after Mark DeRosa went on the disabled list, while Steve Lombardozzi saw a lot of action after Jayson Werth went down with an injury.
"He is an awfully good baseball man. There is no question in my mind," Johnson said about Rizzo. "The young players in the system have done an outstanding job. They have different roles. Tyler Moore was a first baseman and he plays the outfield. Lombardozzi was a second baseman and he played left field, and at the same time is playing a new position and still being productive. It's Mike Rizzo. It's the Mike Rizzo story."
Prospects Skole, Karns honored at Nationals Park
WASHINGTON -- Before Friday's game against the Marlins, the Nationals honored third baseman Matthew Skole as their Minor League Player of the Year and right-hander Nathan Karns as their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Skole hit a combined .292 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs in 118 games for Class A Hagerstown and Class A Potomac. Those 27 home runs led the South Atlantic League, were most among Nationals prospects and were third among all of Class A Minor League Baseball.
Karns was a combined 11-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 116 innings with Hagerstown and Potomac. Karns' 11 wins were second most among Nats farmhands.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.