Bruce Chen will make history when he pitches for China in the World Baseball Classic in March. Chen, born in Panama but with Chinese grandparents, will be the first major league player to play for China’s national team.
In 2009, Chen made one start for Panama, but the team lost both of its games and didn’t go any further. The full tournament lasts less than three weeks, so while Chen’s preparation for 2013 will be slightly interrupted, but it shouldn’t hurt him too much as he gets ready, but it might leave an opening for another starter to sneak into the fifth spot in the rotation. China’s not considered a favorite, so he could end up making one start as in 2009 and being back in Arizona, maybe getting some of his work bumped by a few days.
He’s a veteran and the Royals have an idea of what he’ll be able to do once he’s in camp full time and going into the season.
Other Royals involved in the WBC include:
- Cheslor Cuthbert, who went 4-8 in Nicaragua’s two games in the qualifying round. Despite his efforts (which included a home run), Nicaragua didn’t qualify for the 2013 tournament. He finished 2012 in Wilmington and remains among the Royals top prospects at the age of 20.
- Paulo Orlando helped Brazil qualify by going 4-12 and scoring three times at the top of the lineup. He may get a chance to face Chen, as China and Brazil are in the same Pool. Orlando made it to Triple A in 2011 but spent all of 2012 in Double A Northwest Arkansas. At 27 years old, he’s minor league depth, and was beaten by Yan Gomes (Toronto Blue Jays) as the first Brazilian to reach the majors.
- Luis Piterson finished 2012 in Wilmington but made just one plate appearance for Colombia. He struck out.
- Sugar Ray Marimon made one start for Colombia, working five innings and giving up just one run – the home run hit by Cheslor Cuthbert – in his team’s only win in the qualifiers.
Here’s footage of that homer:
Other rosters for qualifying teams will be announced later this week, but there haven’t been many hints that other Royals will end up recruited to the WBC.