Mon, Sep 16, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Chen scores a first for Taiwan

DEBUTANT Chen Chin-feng became the first Taiwanese to play in a major-league baseball game on Saturday in which he was walked and scored a run for the LA Dodgers

STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles Dodgers' Chen Chin-feng, in his Major League debut, is driven in by Mike Kinkade against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

After sitting out five games, Tai-wan's Chen Chin-feng (陳金鋒) finally made his major-league debut for the LA Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies and scored a run.

Chen, the first Taiwanese baseball player to join the US major leagues, was one of six pinch hitters sent onto the field Saturday in the first half of the sixth inning, at Coors Field in Denver.

Los Angeles used six pinch hitters in the inning, which ties a major league record last set by the Braves in 1993.

The Dodgers had scored 13 unanswered runs in the first four innings, when Chen went up to the plate to face Sean Lowe of the Rockies.

Chen was walked after three balls, two strikes, one outside pitch and another ball. With support from his teammates, Chen scored the 14th run for the Dodgers and they went on to win the game 16-3. LA is in the hunt for a wild card to the postseason playoffs.

"I imagined the major leagues would be a fiercely competitive battlefield, but now that I've tried it, I have more confidence about breaking into the major leagues," Chen said after the game.

He said he was satisfied with his debut. "I'm very happy to be able to contribute to a victory in the team's effort for the postseason."

Back in Taiwan, baseball officials said they were delighted with Chen's performance.

Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) Secretary Wayne Lee (李文彬) said Chen's debut was a landmark.

"His first at-bat is significant not only for his own baseball career but to fans all over Taiwan, as he is the first Taiwanese to play in the majors," he said.

"Chen's accomplishment will also inspire more youngsters in Taiwan to keep their baseball dreams alive and to pursue a future career in baseball."

Dean Yuan (袁定文), a Taiwan Major League (TML) consultant and a TV commentator on US pro baseball in Taiwan, said Chen's debut was a "historic moment."

"Playing in the majors is a tremendous achievement. It used to be the `impossible dream' but it has now become a reality. It will inspire kids and be a tremendous boost for local baseball."

Yuan said Chen's arrival on the world's center stage for baseball would encourage local youngsters to play the game.

He said that in other sports, size is important and Taiwan is at a disadvantage. But he said Chen's example proved that in baseball, size is not an issue.

"It shows size doesn't matter. A lot of other Taiwan players are around the same build as Chen and it shows that anyone with ability can be a major leaguer."

Some commentators have said that with many of Taiwan's best players going to the US, Japan or South Korea, there will be a drain of talent out of the country.

"Actually, this creates a bigger dream," Yuan said. "In three to five years these players will return and their experience will be invaluable for the development of the game."

Former major-leaguer Jonathan Hurst, who pitches for the Taiwan's Brother Elephants, said Chen would do well with Los Angeles.

"[The] Dodgers is an organization that knows how to take care of young talent," he said.

"Chen will be getting plenty of good advice from people around him and I believe that he will get better and better as he continues his career in the major leagues."

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