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National baseball team to head to Nicaragua to open new stadium

2017/10/16 19:08:25

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) Taiwan's national baseball team will be heading to Nicaragua on Tuesday for a three-game-exhibition series to celebrate the opening of the country's new national baseball stadium, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Monday.

The backbone of the team Taiwan is sending consists of student athletes and amateur players who were on the team that won the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands in July, according to the MOFA.

It will be facing a Nicaraguan national team boasting at least three Major League-level players to open Denis Martinez National Baseball Stadium, named after the former major league pitcher who won 245 games in a 23-year career.

Martinez was the first Nicaraguan baseball player to play in the majors and has contributed a great deal to the baseball development of his home country following his retirement, the ministry said.

Speaking during an event to announce the upcoming series, to be held from Oct. 20 to 22, Vice Foreign Minister Jose Maria Liu (劉德立) said Taiwan played an important role in the building of the new 15,000-seat stadium.

Liu said Taiwan donated money to help the Central American ally build the stadium, and it also helped the country draft a blueprint for the stadium's construction.

According to the Ministry of Audit's website, the amount donated for the project was US$30 million.

The donation was later used, however, to help the country recover from a devastating flood in 2014 instead of being put toward building the stadium, Liu said.

Even so, Nicaragua's ambassador to the Republic of China (Taiwan), William Manuel Tapia Aleman, said at Monday's event that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was extremely grateful for Taiwan's assistance to both the stadium project and natural disaster relief efforts.

"So to celebrate the stadium's opening, President Ortega said he wants a Taiwanese team to play against the home team," the ambassador said.

To compete with a team from baseball powerhouse Taiwan, the ambassador said Nicaragua is putting up a strong roster that includes three major league level players.

The three are pitchers Erasmo Ramirez of the Seattle Mariners and J.C. Ramirez of the Los Angeles Angels, and infielder Cheslor Cuthbert of the Kansas City Royals.

Lin Kuan-han (林冠翰), a right-handed pitcher for Team Taiwan, told local media that he was excited to be heading to Nicaragua for the games because it will be the first time he sets foot in the country.

He is also eager to be facing major league players in the exhibition games.

The last time Taiwan's national baseball team visited Nicaragua was in 1994.

(By Joseph Yeh)