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Chien-Ming Wang

April 03, 2006
April 03, 2006

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April 3, 2006

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Chien-Ming Wang

The yankees' $50million rotation includes a five-time Cy Young winner (Randy Johnson), thesixth-winningest pitcher in the majors over the last decade (Mike Mussina) andtwo other All-Stars (Shawn Chacon and Carl Pavano). So who has the best stuff?"He does," says catcher Jorge Posada, nodding toward Wang, who'ssitting quietly at his locker across the spring training clubhouse in Tampa."I've seen plenty of young pitchers come and go. That kid is special. He'shere to stay."

This is an article from the April 3, 2006 issue Original Layout

Meet the firstTaiwanese headed for major league stardom: a 25-year-old righthander who in theoff-season lives with his parents in Tainan and is as colorful as a Yankeesroad jersey. "Everyone [in New York City] thinks I'm quiet because I don'tspeak much English," he says, "but that's just how I ameverywhere."

Last season the6'3", 200-pound Wang helped rescue an injury-ravaged staff by going 8--5with a 4.02 ERA in 17 starts and one relief appearance after his late-Aprilcall-up from Triple A. This year, with Pavano and Jaret Wright still nursinginjuries, Wang, whose best weapon is a tumbling sinker that he uses to inducenearly three ground balls for every fly ball, figures to open the season as theNo. 3 starter.

This winter Wang,who signed with the Yankees as a free agent from Taiwan in 2000, returned toTainan, the island's oldest and fourth-largest city, to a hero's welcome.Already the most accomplished Taiwanese player to reach the majors, he wasinvited to meet president Chen Shui-bian in Taipei. He couldn't step out of hisparents' house without getting stopped in the street by fans. Wang could dowithout all the fuss. "I just tried to stay home, eat my mom's food andwatch TV," he says. "I'm happy for what I've done for Taiwan, but Idon't really need too much attention." If he has a big season, he'll bejust as popular in New York City.

PHOTOROBERT BECK (WANG)