Viera, Florida, April 23 (CNA) Chien-Ming Wang, one of Taiwan's biggest sports heroes, publicly apologized Monday for an extramarital affair that occurred two years ago and said he was deeply sorry for letting down his family and his fans.
"I committed a big mistake two years ago. I dare not even ask for forgiveness to my family members and fans who have loved and supported me," the Washington Nationals pitcher said solemnly at a press conference in Viera, Florida, after a rehab start.
Wang, whose boyish, clean image and success at the major league level endeared him to Taiwanese fans, said that after undergoing surgery in 2009 he was in despair, not knowing whether his life as a professional baseball player had come to an end.
"I was feeling helpless and hopeless during the long hours of rehabilitation (in Florida) every day," Wang said. "At the low ebb of my life, I had this affair."
Wang said the relationship lasted for eight months before he "took the initiative to end it due to the scourge of deep sense of guilt."
But the other party did not want it to end and tried to get back together with Wang by all means, even threatening to tell the media.
"I didn't want to hurt the woman, but realized after weighing the situation that I didn't want to hurt my family more, so I took the initiative to face up to my mistake," Wang said.
"Due to my one-time weakness, I've hurt my wife, family members and the third party, and I can't find words to describe my indebtedness to them," Wang said in a slow and faltering tone as he read a one-page statement.
"The forgiveness and support shown by my wife and family have made me feel even more shame."
Wang decided to hold the press conference and discuss the affair after a source tipped off a Taiwanese tabloid to the story and provided incriminating photographs.
He left after making his brief statement and answering two questions, leaving his agent Alan Chang to speak for him.
Chang said it was not convenient to comment when asked if Wang was being blackmailed for the affair or if anyone had tried to sell photos of Wang and his mistress to the media.
The pitcher reportedly told the Nationals about the affair, with the team responding that it was his own personal business.
Wang reached his peak in the major leagues with successive 19-win seasons for the New York Yankees in 2006 and 2007, but a promising career was then derailed by injuries.
After a strong start to the season in 2008, he injured his foot running the bases in a game in June 2008 and missed the rest of the season.
He then strained his shoulder in 2009, an injury that some believe was caused by not having completely recovered from his foot injury the year before, and he had surgery that kept him off a major league mound until late last year.
Wang appeared to be in top form this spring, with Nationals manager Davey Johnson considering him to be one of the team's top three starters.
But the injury bug hit him again when he strained his hamstring fielding a slow roller in a spring training game against the Yankees on March 15.
Wang has been rehabilitating his leg since then, and in an extended spring training game Monday, Wang allowed one run on five hits in three innings, while striking out three and not walking anybody, according to the Washington Post.
The Nationals have yet to decide whether to insert him into the starting rotation or keep him in the bullpen and bring him along slowly when he returns to the major league club.
(By Tony Liao, Hsiao Pao-hsiang, Oscar Wu and Lilian Wu)