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Strong motivation key to Taiwanese pitcher's MLB success

2013/10/12 21:48:13

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Strong motivation to become a more skillful player has helped right-handed Taiwanese pitcher Lee Chen-chang to overcome the language bullies he encountered when he began pitching in the United States four years ago.

The 26-year-old Lee, who has become the ninth player from Taiwan to reach the major leagues after being called up by the Cleveland Indians in July, shared his experience of playing in the U.S. at a press conference in Taipei Saturday.

Lee said that although he sometimes suffered language bullying from his teammates while starting in the Class A-Advanced level league in his first year because of his poor English level, he dealt with the anger and frustration with a fighting spirit that pushed him to train harder and perform better.

"I told myself that I needed to be stronger," he said.

His efforts bore fruit and he advanced to Class AA level in his second year before being promoted to the major league this year.

"Despite occasional doubts when competing with foreign players who have advantages in physical strength, I never think of giving up," Lee said, adding that "all I want is to play better than everyone."

A native of outlying Penghu County, Lee said he had never dreamed of playing in the U.S., as his initial ambition was to become an amateur baseball player to help improve his family's financial situation.

Brought up in a single-parent family, Lee said his mother ran a small grocery store to support him.

Starting to play baseball while at National Pingtung Senior High School in southern Taiwan, Lee said his coach, Lin Sheng-yen, taught him his unique sidearm delivery that has made him who he is today.

Lee returned to Taiwan last week and will start training sessions in Tainan before the new season begins, in which he said he hopes to be included on his team's 25-man roster.

The pitcher signed with the Indians after pitching brilliantly against Cuba at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, earning him the nickname "the killer of Cuba."

He allowed only one run on three hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings against the Cubans, in a game Cuba won 1-0.

Lee would have likely been called up by the Indians in 2012, but his season was cut short in June when he required surgery on his right elbow.

He spent much of the following year rehabbing the elbow before making his first official appearance back on the mound for the Class A Lake County Captains May 29.

He made two appearances for the Captains, eight for the Double A Akron Aeros, and six for the Triple A Columbus Clippers before being called up.

(By Lin Hon-hai and Maia Huang)