Homecoming MLB pitcher Lee dreams big

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan native Major League pitcher Chen-Chang Lee (李振昌) yesterday expressed hope that he would be included in the Cleveland Indians roster out of spring training next year. “I hope that I can make the Indians 25-man roster out of spring training in the next season,” Lee told at a homecoming press conference in Taipei yesterday. If he makes the cut, the right-hander said he hopes he could stay in the majors throughout the whole season. Lee was called up to the majors on July 12 after five years in the minor leagues, making him the ninth Taiwanese national to play in the major leagues, and the sixth pitcher. In his big league debut on July 15, the 26-year-old Taiwanese rookie hurled 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals.

He was sent back to AAA Columbus on July 24 and was recalled to the majors again on Sept. 4. Though the Indians ultimately did not put Lee on their playoff roster, the team had asked the Taiwan native to stay with the team in its wildcard game versus Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month, showing that it has high hopes for the Taiwanese reliever. Lee had a 4.15 ERA in eight games, 4.1 innings he pitched for the Indians in the Major League this season. He also had four strikeouts. Commenting on his rookie season in the Show, the Taiwanese pitcher, who registered as C.C. Lee in the MLB, said he was terrible when he was called up in July.

“I actually did not remember what I was throwing,” he said, adding that he was suffering from lack of control in his pitches then. But the second time when he was recalled in September, Lee said he gained more experience and became more confident in facing Major League-level batters. He also gained better control of his pitches. Asked what he needs to improve most to survive in the highly competitive league, Lee said he wishes to have better control and maximize his velocity during the offseason in preparation for next year’s challenges. Happy to Stay Healthy

Other than that, Lee said he was pretty happy with his performance this year and most importantly, he was able to stay healthy. At his peak, Lee’s fastball has been timed at 97 mph. But he missed most of 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The 26-year-old played for the Indians’ Minor League teams since 2009 and left with a record of 19-11 in 250.2 innings pitched. He recorded 311 strikeouts.