Thu, Mar 28, 2002 - Page 14 News List

Some of the old foreign faces return to Taiwan

PITCHING IN Foreigners have always been an important element to baseball in Taiwan and this year most teams have at least one player from either the US or Japan

By Jeffery Wilson  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Taiwan seems have put a halt to its problem of import player turnover.

Instead, fans are seeing the same faces on the pitching mound year after year.

The four North American and Latin pitchers in the Chinese Professional Baseball League this season year have a combined 15 years of experience in the league.

The dean of the pitching quartet is Osvaldo Martinez, who began his sixth season in Taiwan when the Chinese Professional Baseball League began play on March 8.

Spending all his years with the Sinon Bulls, Martinez is now just a year short of applying for Taiwan permanent residency.

Next in seniority is Lino Rivera, whose fifth season in Taiwan is off to a rocky start at 0-2 (7.64) with the often impatient President Lions.

Jonathan Hurst returned to Brother for his fourth season in Taiwan, after spending last season in Japan with the Yakult Swallows.

Hurst is off to a fast start, winning all three of his starts with a 0.75 ERA.

John Burgos is also beginning his fourth campaign in Taiwan. He returns to the Lions after leading the league last season with 18 wins.

The rival Taiwan Major League meanwhile kicked off their season on March 23 with Dave Hilton at the helm of the Chiayi Luka.

Imports on his roster include pitcher Greg Bicknell, and Australian position players Gavin Fingleson and Matt Buckley.

Fingleson batted .269 with four stolen bases for Australia in last year's Baseball World Cup in Taiwan.

Hilton managed the Luka in 1999. Last season, Chiayi won only once in their final 26 games to finish the season 13-47 -- the worst record ever for a Taiwan pro baseball team.

Fingleson and Buckley were on last season's Chiayi team, until they were cut to make room for import pitchers -- a move which was seen as contributing to Luka's free fall.

Fingleson showed that he he belonged in Taiwan, however, returning to the island for the Baseball World Cup last year, batting .269 with four stolen bases for Team Australia.

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