When Wang Chien-ming (王建民), the Taiwanese starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, returned home for a break at the end of the last US baseball season, local media were eager to ask him what his goal for this year would be.
A man known for giving short answers, Wang simply said the most important thing was "not to get hurt" and "just pitch." But now, Wang is having to confront his worst fear.
The New York Yankees issued an official statement yesterday saying that Wang is currently on the team's injured list. According to the statement, Wang suffered a strain of his right hamstring during a conditioning practice on Friday.
"I don't look for him [Wang] to touch our Major League roster until sometime in late April," said the Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman.
The injury means Wang will miss out on an opportunity to be the first Asian to be the Opening Day starter, in a game scheduled for April 2.
Wang said in a television interview that he felt sad about the unexpected setback but hoped he would recover from the injury soon so that he could return to the mound again.
Wang's misfortune means that another pitcher on the Yankee's roster will get the chance to throw the first pitch.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said that Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and Jeff Karstens were potential candidates but of the three, Pavano was the "likely favorite," he said.
Wang, however, may not be the only starting pitcher from Taiwan forced to sit in the dugout at the start of the season.
A report in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday indicated that LA Dodgers starter Kuo Hong-chih (郭泓志) is unlikely to pitch again this spring as his left shoulder is showing signs of inflammation.
The pain in his shoulder looks likely to have played a role in a series of disappointing performances in this season's warm-up games.
Kuo has only recently recovered from "Tommy John" surgery, performed last year, otherwise known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.
This is a surgical procedure in which a medial ligament in the elbow is replaced with a ligament from elsewhere in the patient's body (often from the forearm, hamstring, knee or foot).
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