Phoenix — Wei-Chung Wang was not pleased with his previous outing in an intrasquad scrimmage game last Friday.
He came out of his Cactus League debut feeling much better about himself, though, after an impressive one-inning stint against the Chicago Cubs at Maryvale Baseball Park on Monday.
The 21-year-old Taiwanese left-hander, whom the Milwaukee Brewers selected in the Rule 5 draft in December, needed just 11 pitches to retire the Cubs in order in the sixth. He struck out two of the three batters he faced, one looking and the other swinging.
It was all new for Wang — the crowd of 4,009 spectators, the batters, even warming up as a reliever. Wang, who had never pitched above rookie league, had made all but one appearance as a starter when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“In the intrasquad game, I knew who was hitting,” Wang said through interpreter Jay Hsu. “But in a real game, I don’t know who the batter is.
“Don’t think too much on the mound. Kyle (Lohse) told me, ‘Just throw strikes.'”
That he did, throwing eight in his 11 pitches. Previously, the high point for Wang had been striking out Ryan Braun in the Brewers’ first intrasquad scrimmage on Feb. 25.
Now he has a solid outing against some big-league hitters in a real game situation on which to build.
“Threw a nice breaking ball to get a punchout, threw a nice fastball to get a punchout,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “His delivery was nice and he was down in the zone. He was really good.”
Wang said he was most encouraged by the tailing action his fastball showed against the Cubs, and while there were no official numbers available, word was he reached as high as 93 on the radar gun.
In his first interview session shortly after camp opened, Wang told reporters that the challenge of making the Brewers was comparable to swimming from his native Taiwan to the United States.
Does he feel any better about his chances after Monday?
“I see an island,” said Wang with a smile. “But there’s still a lot of sharks.”