Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Its baseball star fallen, Taiwan scopes alternatives


rtr26txvA chain of injuries suffered by New York Yankees star Wang Chien-ming is pushing a pair of more obscure Taiwan-born U.S. Major League Baseball pitchers into the limelight as dejected fans grudgingly seek alternatives.

Fans in baseball-crazy Taiwan, though far from giving up on Wang, say they are looking harder at Ni Fu-te and Kuo Hong-chih. But unlike Wang, a starting pitcher responsible for winning games, the other two are relief pitchers and neither is quite a superhero.

Wang, so famous in Taiwan that his jersey number, 40, is synonymous with his name, before 2008 was a league sensation whose sinker balls had earned him a 54-23 career win-loss record and a line-up of product sponsorships in Taiwan. Wang sat out much of the past two seasons.

“To say that Wang Chien-ming will be replaced by these other two because he was injured, I wouldn’t go that far, but Taiwan’s Yankees viewership has been affected,” said Kang Cheng-nan, a physical education teacher at National Taiwan University. ”The other two need to be monitored for longer, but if they do well, fans will watch.”