Taiwanese pitcher Lee Chen-chang logged 1-1/3 scoreless innings on his major league debut on Sunday in Cleveland, helping the Cleveland Indians to a 6-4 win and a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals as they head into the All-Star break.
A native of Penghu County, Lee was called up to the majors on Friday, becoming the ninth Taiwanese to appear in the major leagues and the first for the Cleveland Indians.
The 26-year-old reliever entered the game after starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez allowed a leadoff single to start the fifth inning.
Lee first walked Salvador Perez, but then settled down and retired the next three batters to end the inning.
Heading into the sixth inning, the young right-hander hit a batter and recorded the first out on a pop-up, before being replaced by Rich Hill.
Lee acknowledged that his command was off, but expressed satisfaction for holding the Royals scoreless.
“I wasn’t very nervous; instead I was very excited,” Lee told reporters while speaking about his debut after the game.
When news came that the Taiwanese reliever, registered as C.C. Lee, was promoted by the Indians, US sports media quickly noted that his name was reminiscent of the two beloved former Cleveland pitchers — C.C. Sabathia, who won a Cy Young Award for the Indians in 2007, and Cliff Lee, who won a Cy Young Award for the Indians in 2008.
Even though Lee may not be the next Cy Young Award winner for the Indians, the young reliever was ranked as the team’s 10th-best prospect before the start of the season by Baseball America in its prospect handbook, which said he was a “potential big-league set-up man.”
The Taiwanese was signed by the Indians after pitching brilliantly against Cuba at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
He also pitched for Taiwan in the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
Lee would likely have been called up by the Indians last year, but his season was cut short in June when he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
However, the young reliever has worked his way back into Cleveland’s plans, assembling a 2.76 ERA while notching 25 strikeouts and eight walks across 16-1/3 innings pitched in the minors this season.
Lee is thankful for the support of Taiwanese fans and media throughout the five years he spent in the minors, the pitcher said through his agent after the game.
However, Lee also hopes the media respect the privacy of his family in Taiwan, because his family would not be comfortable in the media spotlight, his agent added.