On June 15, 2008, Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang left the field after rounding the bases during an interleague game against the then National League-based Houston Astros. Eight years later, he might finally be returning.
While the foot injury that came during that sprint around the Houston infield didn't technically end Wang's career, it might as well have. When Wang hit the disabled list in June of 2008, he owned the following career numbers: 54-20, 3.79 ERA, 117 ERA+ and a 3.90 FIP. With back-to-back 30-plus start seasons, a No. 2 finish in an AL Cy Young vote and rising strikeout rates, Wang was 28 years old and a Yankees star.
Since? A total of 31 starts across seven years, an ERA of 6.60 and zero appearances since 2013. That run included forgettable stints with the Nationals, Blue Jays, Reds, White Sox, Braves, Mariners and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League.
While New York fans certainly hope CC Sabathia takes home Comeback Player of the Year honors, Wang's latest comeback attempt is the most eye-opening development of spring training. He's not only healthy, but the 35-year-old suddenly has his arsenal back for the Kansas City Royals.
Heading into Cactus League play on Tuesday, Wang had pitched to a 1.50 ERA across four games, striking out five batters in six innings. If he continues to look like the Wang of old, the two-time defending American League champions might have to find a spot for him on a loaded roster.
Kansas City travels to New York for a series with the Yankees on May 9, giving the Wang comeback story a chance to play out on the mound he dominated for years during his prime.