Wang, fearing surgery, gets an ominous third opinionBy
While the Yanks behind ace CC Sabathia were busy dispatching the A’s, the Front Office had to face some bad news concerning Chien-Ming Wang. After receiving a second opinion from Dr. David Altchek on Wang’s shoulder, the team will consult with Dr. James Andrews as well. Wang himself fears the worst.
Bryan Hoch summarized the bad news late last night:
Chien-Ming Wang is concerned that his 2009 season may be over, having sought a second opinion as he continues to feel discomfort in his right shoulder, and now Dr. James Andrews will get his chance to take a look.
Wang visited on Wednesday with Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York after suffering a setback earlier in the week while playing catch, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad on Thursday to discuss Wang’s situation.
After reviewing Altchek’s findings, the Yankees are next set to confer with Andrews before discussing Wang’s status further. But at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, the 29-year-old Wang said that he is worried that surgery may be necessary. “I don’t know,” Wang said. “The shoulder, the day I played catch, it still feels the same.”
It is worth noting that both Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte have consulted with Dr. Andrews, and neither needed surgery. Wang, however, does not sound like a man confident in his 2009 pitching future, and we all saw this coming.
As Wang struggled early this year after a decent Spring Training, the Yanks tried to blame weak legs and a weak core for Wang’s struggles. Our pitch f/x analysis however — here and here — told a different story. Wang wasn’t releasing the ball where he should have been. When he was a dominant pitcher in 2007, his release point was lower and closer to his body. This year, it was up high and further away. Something was wrong.
Now the Yankees know what it is and the extent of the damage, and soon enough, the rest of us will too. At this point, the Yankees aren’t expecting anything from Wang this year, but they have a larger problem on their hands. With Wang out, Joba nearing his innings and Phil Hughes firmly ensconced in the bullpen, their once-vaunted pitching depth has withered its way down to Sergio Mitre and — I shudder to type it — Kei Igawa.
The Yankees will soon have to get creative, and they will have to acquire a pitcher for the rest of 2009 and into 2010. If Wang’s shoulder is truly as damaged as it sounds, he could be facing surgery and a 10- or 12-month rehab stint. With the trade deadline seven days away, Brian Cashman is probably already on the phone, hunting for that arm the Yanks now need.