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Chien-Ming Wang eyeing MLB comeback (update)

2013/03/11 19:51:28

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Taiwan's ace pitcher Chien-Ming Wang said Monday he hopes to be able to pitch again professionally in the United States major leagues.

Wang, who pitched 12 scoreless innings in two World Baseball Classic (WBC) games against Australia and Japan on March 2 and March 8, respectively, talked about his future hopes after returning home from Tokyo, where Taiwan was ousted from the tournament on Saturday.

Local media reports said Wang's outstanding performance in the WBC's first and second rounds impressed Japanese baseball scouts and that some of the country's professional baseball teams are interested in signing him.

The reports speculated that Wang had postponed his return to Taipei from Sunday to Monday in order to talk with interested Japanese baseball teams.

Wang, who became a free agent after the Washington Nationals failed to tender him at the end of the 2012 MLB season, denied the reports, saying he had remained in Tokyo an additional day simply for "sightseeing around the city."

"It's only speculation that Japanese baseball teams intend to sign me," Wang said, adding that there had not been any formal contacts between him and Japanese baseball figures during his stay there.

At the moment, the 32-year-old right-hander said, returning to the major leagues remains his top priority.

Wang, who won 19 games for the New York Yankees in both 2006 and 2007 and finished second in the 2006 American League Cy Young race, said he will stay in Taiwan for a few more days before returning to his home in Florida.

"I'll continue training on my own in Florida," Wang said, adding that he would be pleased to play for any MLB team that wanted him.

Wang said he did not know if he had received any offers from MLB teams because all contract issues were being handled by his agent.

"It all depends on how my agent works things out," he said.

Hundreds of local baseball fans swarmed to Taipei's Songshan Airport to greet Wang.

Passionate fans who jammed the arrival lounge welcomed Wang with loud cheers and chants. He had to rely on the help of aviation police to make his way through the arrival lobby.

Wang said he was humbled by the praise received from his fans but asked them to also give credit to his teammates who played great defense behind him.

Some local sports pundits credited Wang for helping rekindle the country's passion for baseball with his outstanding performances in the World Baseball Classic.

TV ratings for the two WBC games in which Wang pitched set record highs.

Enthusiasm for Taiwan's national pastime had cooled down in recent years due to game-fixing scandals in the local professional baseball league.

(By Lee Chin-wei and Sofia Wu)
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