Friday I complained about the length of Spring Training and expressed concern about Chien-Ming Wang’s injury. Sure enough, reported yesterday is that Wang will spend April on the DL. To me, this is devastating news. I have been expecting him to start Opening Day and get the Yankees off to a good start. He’s on my fantasy team. Instead, there is now more pressure on the two biggest question marks for the season: Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa.
So, as I slowly started to come to terms with the impending absence of Wang and thinking about how I feel with Pettitte on Opening Day(pretty good, actually), I read that Carl Pavano of all people is the favorite to make the start. Are you kidding me? Carl Pavano? The same Carl Pavano that hasn’t piched in a Major Legaue game since June of 2005? Joe Torre said "It’s Opening Day, but there are 161 other games." That’s true. But NONE of those 161 other games are Opening Day. That quote, to me, sounds like they’ve decided April 2 is a throwaway game. I don’t understand how the structure of the rotation means Pavano goes that day. The structure of the rotation just changed.
There is a positive note to this. Jeff Karstens will get his shot to prove himself. I was really impressed with Karstens during his call-up last year and he’s pitched great for most of the Spring. We know he’s Major League ready. Another thing this does is if someone doesn’t perform, Wang’s return will be a perfect opportunity to get rid of them. Whether it’s Igawa, Pavano, or even Karstens, we can rest assured they’ll only be around until the end of April.
In an outpouring of emotion, Wang said this makes him "very, very sad." It makes me sad, too. It’s a setback. I would be tempted to call it a serious setback. But, in the end, it’s only April. And it’s not like the Yankees don’t have a bit of pitching depth to work with for that short amount of time. Hopeully this doesn’t mark the beginning of another slow start for the team. After 2005 and 2006, I was really looking forward to the Yankees going strong out of the gate. Hopefully this doesn’t affect their chances of doing that.