Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is leaning toward not pitching for his native Taiwan in this spring’s World Baseball Classic in March, according to an industry source.
Taiwan, which competes internationally as Chinese Taipei, is playing in a World Baseball Classic qualifier next week in Taiwan against the Philippines, New Zealand and Thailand.
Chen, who pitched for Chinese Taipei in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – he was 1-0 in two starts – and was a member of the team in the 2004 Athens Olympics, was 12-11 during his rookie campaign with the Orioles and was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
The 26-year-old Chen seemed to hit the rookie wall late in the season – he was winless in his last seven starts of the regular season, going 0-4 in that span -- and he threw a total of 199 innings, including the postseason. That’s the most he’s thrown as a pro. In four seasons pitching in Japan before joining the Orioles, Chen averaged 157 innings and never threw more than 188 frames.
Plus, if Chen does play in the WBC, he could miss up to three weeks of spring training, costly time for a pitcher entering his second big league season.
All would be factors Chen is considering in not participating in the WBC.
So if Chen does choose to skip the World Baseball Classic, the Orioles won’t try to talk him out of it. One industry source said the decision to pitch in the WBC is entirely up to him and the club will stick behind him either way. But clubs aren’t fond of losing impact players during the spring. And when former Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie pitched for the US in the WBC in 2009, he sputtered early in the season.
First-round games are slated to be played in Taiwan beginning on March 2. Again, Chinese Taipei must still win next week’s qualifier to play in the WBC.
Meanwhile, Chen is currently living in Los Angeles and doesn’t plan on returning to Taiwan until mid-December. He will also have added responsibilities next year. Chen and his wife, Yi-Wen Tsai, are expecting their first child next week.