Riding the momentum of Taiwan’s success in this year’s World Baseball Classic, the much anticipated Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) season is to get under way with the Lamigo Monkeys hosting the Uni-President Lions at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium this afternoon.
The opening-day showdown between the clubs from last year’s Taiwan Series — which saw the Primates dominate the Cats 4-1 — is set to feature a number of slugging heroes from the WBC, including the Monkeys’ Lin Chih-sheng and Lin Hung-yu, and Lions greats Kao Chih-kang and Chen Yung-chi, whose bats sent Taiwan into the second round of the WBC earlier this month for the first time in history.
While the attention will be focused on both teams’ offense, the key to victory will lie on the shoulders of the starting pitcher.
Lamigo skipper Hung Yi-chung is likely to send Mike Loree to the mound to face Lions staff ace Pan “Du Du” Wei-luen, who showed no signs of aging in several relief appearances for Taiwan in the WBC and has given Lions fans much to talk about.
With the arrival of former Major League MVP Manny Ramirez and several Taiwanese veteran players opting to return home to continue their baseball careers following long stints in the US, this season promises to be the most competitive in recent years.
Fans will have a chance to watch Ramirez in an EDA Rhinos uniform facing former Colorado Rockies minor leaguer Luo Ching-lung as the latest addition to the Lions’ starting rotation, as well as former New York Mets standout Hu Chin-lung showing off his amazing glove work for the Rhinos infield.
“I am very excited about coming to Taiwan and playing baseball again, it’s a great sport and a lot of fun,” Ramirez said upon his arrival in Kaohsiung last week.
He will lead a lineup of sluggers that include newly signed longball threat Kao Guo-hui, who spent several seasons with the Seattle Mariners in the minor leagues before deciding to return home.
2013 ASIA SERIES
The league also announced the relocation of the 2013 Asia Series from Fukuoka, Japan, to Taichung, with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) agreeing to transfer the rights to hold the event to the CPBL.
In addition to the winners, the runners-up of this year’s Taiwan Series are expected to take part in the competition to complete a field of six teams, including the champions of Australia, China, Japan and South Korea’s professional leagues.