Taipei, March 31 (CNA) The Taiwanese quartet of Chien-ming Wang, Kuo Hong-chih, Hu Chin-lung and Ni Fu-te are hopeful of a brilliant new Major League Baseball (MLB) season which begins April 1 Taiwan time.
Unlike in the past, local fans will be looking at left-handed reliever Kuo and utility infielder Hu, who have earned spots on the 25-man opening day rosters with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, rather than Wang, the most popular of the four.
Wang has had a slow rehabilitation with the Washington Nationals after receiving shoulder surgery two years ago. He has never appeared in a game for the Nationals and his scheduled appearance in a simulation game earlier this month was shortened from two innings to one due to stiffness in his shoulder.
The 31-year-old, who had 55 wins and 26 losses with the New York Yankees from 2005-2009, has been placed on the 60-day disabled list and is looking at returning to the mound in May.
Kuo returned from a brilliant 2010 season in which he finished with three wins, two losses and 12 saves in 56 appearances, his best performance since making his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2005. He became the first Taiwanese player to earn a spot in the MLB mid-season All-Star Game.
The 29-year-old left-hander, who has had four surgeries on his elbow, also broke the Dodgers franchise record of the lowest earned run average (ERA) , finishing the season with an ERA of 1.20. He struck out 73 while yielding only 29 hits and 18 walks in 60 innings.
Kuo, who signed a one-year, US$2.725 million contract with the Dodgers prior to the start of the season, is expected to start as a set-up man but could end up with a bigger role if closer Jonathan Broxton does not do well.
Kuo had a .087 ERA in seven appearances in spring training.
Meanwhile, Hu, 28, saw a change of scenery after being traded from the Dodgers to the Mets. The utility infielder batted only .296 in the spring but his defense was praised by Mets manager Terry Collins. He is expected to be the first man off the bench as a second baseman or a shortstop.
The Tainan native, who only appeared in 96 games in four years with the Dodgers from 2007-2010 due to his subpar batting performance, is hopeful of winning more playing time this season.
Left-hander Ni will have to start the season down in the Minors after appearing in 58 games with the Detroit Tigers from 2009-2010 as a reliever. The 27-year-old was sent to the Triple-A Toledo March 9.
Ni, who said his biggest adjustment from last year was to simplify his approach and to stop thinking too much, could be called up to the Majors if the Tigers need help with their lefty relievers. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J