Orioles' Chen expects big things in upcoming MLB season
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
January 17, 2012, 12:08 am TWN
Taiwanese left-hander Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷) expressed confidence for the upcoming challenges in the next Major League Baseball (MLB) season in the United States during a press conference to announce his official signing with the Baltimore Orioles yesterday in Taipei.
Chen, who was the first Taiwanese player to play for Japanese professional baseball before signing with a U.S. Major League team, spoke at the press conference wearing the Orioles No. 16 uniform and cap, and accompanied by his agent and the MLB team's representative Ray Poitevint.
"I am very happy to be given the opportunity to take on the challenges in the MLB, which has been my longtime dream since my high school days," Chen said during a press conference in Taipei.
Chen noted that the reason he chose No. 16 was because it was his old number back in high school.
Another reason for making the choice was that the number was also worn by Asian baseball legend Hideo Nomo, the first Japanese major leaguer to make a big impact in the world's highest level baseball league, he added.
Nomo's successful debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 is widely seen as having helped pave the way for the subsequent "wave" of Japanese and Asian players entering the MLB.
Looking forward to the upcoming season, the 26-year-old lefty said he is ready, but also admitted that he will need to make some adjustments, as he needs to familiarize himself with the new rhythm of pitching every five days in the MLB, instead of every six or seven days in Japan.
Orioles Eager for Chen's 'special traits'
Poitevint, executive director of Orioles' International Baseball, told yesterday's press conference that his team decided to sign Chen not only because of his great delivery and strong arm.
Chen has some unique qualities such as "mental toughness" and "emotional control," as well as a "drive and desire to overcome any adversity " — traits that are bound to make him a great hurler.
Poitevint said he hopes Chen will be able to join the Orioles' starting rotation as one of the five starters soon.
Aside from being a great pitcher, he also expected that "the handsome and well-built" Chen, who seems like a movie star to him, could further boost the box-office of his team by attracting more Asian and Taiwanese fans.
Chen and the Orioles last week agreed to a three-year contract worth US$11,338,000.
The local southpaw gets a US$250,000 signing bonus and salaries of US$3.072 million this year, US$3.572 million in 2013 and US$4.072 million in 2014.
The Orioles have a US$4.75 million option for 2015 with a $372,000 buyout.
Chen has played for several years under the banner of the Chunichi Dragons in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) since his debut in 2005.
During his time with the NPB, Chen went 36-30 with a 2.59 ERA in 650 2/3 innings for the Dragons, striking out 520 batters while walking only 159.