SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- That Wei-Chung Wang stepped to the plate for the first time this spring in a bunt situation was a disappointment to the Rule 5 Draft pick. He wanted to show Brewers coaches he could hit.
"I was thinking to maybe fail to bunt twice," Wang said through his translator, Jay Hsu, "and then I can hit."
He was joking, of course. Wang dutifully sacrificed the runner to second base, conquering one of the challenges he faced in his latest bid to bolster his chances with the Brewers. The 21-year-old is trying to win a spot in Milwaukee's bullpen after pitching last year in rookie ball.
Wang still has not walked a batter this spring, but he surrendered his first three earned runs on five hits including a home run in 2 2/3 innings against the Rockies on Thursday.
"I don't want those happening during the season," Wang said. "But if it's happening right now, I can get ready to face it."
Said Manager Ron Roenicke: "Again, he's throwing strikes. He makes them earn what they have, and that's great."
He admitted feeling nervous before his first spring start. "Good," said Roenicke. "Nobody's that cool." But he has mostly appeared poised this spring. There is little or no precedent for a pitcher jumping all the way from Rookie ball to the big leagues, but that is what Rule 5 Draft procedures require in this case, lest the Brewers offer Wang back to the Pirates.
"If we're looking to try to win this year, to have a guy who wouldn't really be functional would be tough," Roenicke said. "This guy, hey, this guy could get a lot of outs for us. You never know. He could end up being a guy in the bullpen who's really good."
Earlier this spring, Wang compared the challenge to swimming across the ocean from his home in Taiwan. Later, he said he was starting to see signs of land, but was surrounded by sharks.
Now, as other prospective Brewers pitchers are returned to Minor League camp and Wang remains, he's hopeful.
"The sharks are less and less," Wang said.