TAMPA, Fla. -- Chien-Ming Wang could have gone elsewhere, but he called returning to the Yankees "an easy decision.'' The righthander enjoyed his most productive seasons in pinstripes, and the opportunity to rejoin his first MLB organization proved too much to pass up.
"I never wanted to leave,'' Wang said of the Yankees, for whom he went 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA from 2005-09 before foot and shoulder injuries derailed his career.
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Wang spoke to reporters after a workout that lasted about 45 minutes -- and included mostly stretching, running and light throwing -- at the minor-league complex. Wang, who turns 33 March 31, threw for the team hierarchy last week before being offered a minor-league deal.
Wang is coming off a strong performance for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic and had been looking for a major- league contract, but his injury history had teams, including the Yankees, offering only minor-league deals.
"This year, much better,'' Wang said of his health.
Wang, who won 19 games in 2006 and 2007 and was 8-2 when he suffered a serious foot injury in 2008, signed with the Nationals before the 2010 season but missed the entire season while recovering from shoulder surgery. He was 6-6 with a 4.94 ERA in 21 games (16 starts) with the Nationals in 2011-12.
"One of those low-risk, can't-lose moves,'' one AL talent evaluator said of the sinkerballer. "And when he was healthy, he was really good.''
Wang, who heard from Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte after his deal went through, will start the season with Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre. Should an injury occur to a member of the rotation, he could be an option. "Just like back in the day,'' he said of returning to pinstripes. "This is my first team, this is where I started. I feel great.''