Kansas City, U.S. – Taiwanese pitcher Chien-Ming Wang said Sunday that his return to the U.S. Major League after an absence of nearly three years was a realization of his dream.
“I’m just doing my utmost, and trying my best to return to the path I chose,” Wang said at a press conference at the Kansas City Royals’ home stadium, during which he confirmed that he was returning to majors after his non-roster spring training with the Royals.
Speaking with reporters from Taiwan, the right-hander, who was an ace in the New York Yankees before he was injured in 2008, stressed the importance of being oneself.
“Be yourself, stick to your own beliefs and realize your own dreams,” he said. “Don’t give up simply because of what people say. Just carry on.”
Wang, 36, was added to the Kansas City Royals’ 25-man roster in a surprise pick on Opening Day, according to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star.
“It’s just unreal,” Wang told reporters. “Even now, after all I know, it seems unreal to me.”
Asked whether he was excited about returning to the major league, Wang said his efforts had paid off and he was happy when he was informed on April 1 of his pick.
“I hope I can use this opportunity to remain in the major leagues,” he said.
Speaking of his assignment as a relief pitcher for the Royals, Wang said he has to maintain a state of readiness.
The “soft-tossing right-hander made the most of his non-roster invite to the Royals’ spring training,” producing a 2.40 ERA and 9:2 K:BB ratio over 15 innings, Dodd said in the Kansas City Star report.
“Wang demonstrated a big boost in velocity this spring — he went from 88-89 mph last year in the Minors to 94-95 mph this spring, an increase he attributed to a mechanical change in his delivery he learned last offseason at the Texas Baseball Ranch,” according to an article on the Royals website.
“He looks like the same guy I had with the Yankees 10 years ago,” Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland was quoted as saying in the article.
Royals manager Ned Yost said it was not a difficult decision to put Wang on the roster.
“Wang is an amazing competitor,” Yost said at the press conference. “Wang’s presence will make the Royals’s bullpen better.”
“He’ll start out in the bullpen. We really like his sinker, Yost said in the article. “We envision him being a fifth- or sixth- or seventh-inning guy, especially if we need a double play. He’s got a lot of action on that sinker.”
The Taiwanese pitcher played for the New York Yankees from 2005 to 2009 and was the team’s ace during his two consecutive 19-win seasons in 2006 and 2007.
After a strong start in 2008, Wang tore the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot running the bases against the Houston Astros on June 15, and he has not been the same since.
He missed the rest of the 2008 season and then struggled at the start of 2009 before injuring his right shoulder, a setback that kept him off a major league mound until 2010 with the Nationals.
However, his treatment regime for the injury prevented him from showing up in games for an entire major league season until 2011, when he recorded four wins in seven games to earn an ERA of 4.04.
In 2012, Wang was injured again when he stepped on a base bag. On March 22, 2013 he signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees, and then opted out of his contract in June that same year to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.