Taiwanese pitcher Wang Chien-ming will very likely return to his old team, the New York Yankees, with a minor league contract, as sources familiar with the matter revealed the Yankees were to officially announce the deal yesterday.
The sources also said Wang is expected to put on a Yankee suit again next week and begin his training.
The Yankees declined to comment on the deal, but said a final confirmation was pending.
Meanwhile, Wang’s appearance at the Yankees’ spring training base in Tampa, Florida, on Friday has drawn media attention. Journalists from Taiwan caught Wang outside the baseball field, Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper reported yesterday.
The report said Wang began pitching, catching and weight training on Friday. Although he refused to talk about the reported deal, his agent, Alan Chang, confirmed Wang has passed physical examinations, implying the contract exists, the report said.
Asked how he felt about being back at the Yankees’ base, Wang said: “I’ve been here for nine years, everything inside [there] is still the same.”
“And I also saw some old teammates who have become coaches,” he told Taiwanese reporters.
Wang, who turns 33 at the end of the month, was born in Tainan. His excellent pitching, at speeds of 150kph, impressed US professional baseball scouts in 2000.
In May that year, Wang signed with the Yankees his first contract, which was valued at US$2.1 million. Then in 2005, he was promoted to the Major League, becoming only the third Taiwanese baseball player to enter the US Major League, following Chen Chin-feng and Tsao Chin-hui.
With his signature sinkers, Wang was considered the Yankees’ ace pitcher for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, after winning 19 games in those two years to finish among the Major League leaders in victories.
However, the following year, he suffered from a foot injury, from which he never fully recovered. He left the Yankees in 2009 to become a free agent.
Wang was granted free agency for the second time in October 2011, when he was released by the Washington Nationals. However, after the 12 scoreless innings he pitched for Taiwan in the World Baseball Classic tournament earlier this month, he caught the attention of the Yankees again.