MLB players warm up for exhibition series in Taipei

31/10/2011

The all-star team of MLB (U.S. Major League Baseball) players showed off their home run power for Taiwanese fans on Monday.

The all-star team of MLB (U.S. Major League Baseball) players showed off their home run power for Taiwanese fans on Monday.

In the scheduled day for work-out, the major league players took to the field for an afternoon of hitting and other practice sessions at Shinchuang Stadium in New Taipei City.

The MLB players got warmed up with pitching, fielding, and batting practices at the ballpark facility yesterday. When the big sluggers came to bat, they wowed the local fans by repeatedly blasting shots over the fence into the outfield bleachers.

These home run balls at batting practice became much sought-after souvenirs for the spectators in the outfield.

Coming here to play exhibition game series this week, the MLB squad includes some of the biggest names in the game, such as Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson (New York Yankees), Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco Giants), LaTroy Hawkins (Milwaukee Brewers), Michael Morse (Washington Nationals), Phil Coke (Detroit Tigers), Dillon Gee (New York Mets), and others.

They will face Taiwan’s national team, headed by Wang Chien-Ming (Washington Nationals) and Ni Fu-Te (Detroit Tigers), for a five-game competition, known as the “2011 Taiwan All-Star Series”.

First game is going to place at this Shinchuang Stadium on Tuesday (Nov. 1) for the fans in Taipei, capital city of Taiwan. Then the series move to Taichung and Kaohsiung, the two big cities in central and southern regions, for the other four games later this week.

Highlight of the MLB work-out day was a designated charity event – a home run derby just for Yankees’ Robinson Cano.

It was to re-create Cano’s winning performance in the home run derby at the MLB All-Star Game earlier this year. For this event in Taiwan, Robinson Cano got service from his favorite feeding pitcher, the same as at the MLB event – his father Jose Cano.

This was quite a treat for baseball fans here, because Robinson Cano is a highly popular star in Taiwan for being a good friend and long-time teammate of Taiwanese pitcher Wang Chien-Ming when they were both in the farm system together and they came up to the big league with the NY Yankees to play together from 2005 to 2009.

Even more historically significant for the locals was the return of Jose Cano, Robinson’s father, back to Taiwan. Seeing Jose Cano pitching again at Shinchuang ballpark was a memorable moment for many fans and members of the media.

Jose Cano was a starting pitcher in Taiwan’s CPBL pro league for five seasons in the 1990’s and he was one of the crowd favorites.

The elder Cano was known as “Ah-Q” when he played with the President Lions from 1992-1994. He came back to Taiwan for a second time to contribute vital roles in winning two consecutive championships with the Weichuan Dragons in 1998-1999. When with the Weichuan club, the elder Cano was known as “Chiang Lung” – which means “Strong Dragon” in Mandarin Chinese.

For this charity event, Robinson Cano cranked 4 homers to the delight of the crowd. For his efforts and the 4 homers, sponsors of the event will donate NT$ 200,000 (about USD 6,600) to charity organizations in Cano’s home country of Dominican Republic.

When asked about his experience in Taiwan, Jose Cano said, “The fans were great, I can feel the passion for baseball everywhere I go. People came up to me to say “Hello” and wanted to talk to me….. It’s wonderful to came back to this ballpark (Shinchuang). I won a championship game here with the Weichuan Dragons, and I still have the game ball from that game at my home.

After the practice session, MLB All-Star team manager Bruce Bochy announced his line-up for Tuesday’s first encounter against the Taiwan national squad – with starting assignment given to pitcher Jeremy Guthrie of the Baltimore Orioles.