Its been a fairly quiet offseason for Royals pitcher Bruce Chen.
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Hes been spending time with his daughters, working out, trying to locate birth certificates from China and Panama.
Chen may pitch for China in the World Baseball Classic, which is March 2-19. To do so, he must meet the eligibility requirements. While Chen was born in Panama, three of his grandparents were born in China.
Im very intrigued about the possibility, Chen said. Im very excited about being able to participate, but Im just waiting to see if Im eligible first. Im working on doing everything I can to be ready for the World Baseball Classic, if I am indeed able to represent China.
Chen hopes to hear his name called Thursday, when the provisional rosters for the WBC will be announced. Royals catcher Salvador Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar told The Star last fall that they hope to play for Venezuela.
Paulo Orlando, who played last season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, helped Brazil qualify for the WBC and may be part of its roster.
Any questions about a players eligibility for a country must be cleared by the World Baseball Classic, Inc. Chen was asked to present his birth certificate, along with his parents and his grandparents.
It was very difficult, Chen said. Im talking about 60, 70 years ago, and we cannot find the Chinese one. Thats in China, 70 years ago, I dont even know how they recorded that. When they moved to Panama, they were not thinking, Let me bring my birth certificate from China.
The part in China with the passports, I dont think well be able to get it, because that was too hard, but the Panamanian records of when they came, they were able to get it.
Chen pitched in the first two WBC competitions for Panama. He allowed two runs and four hits in four innings in a 7-0 loss to Puerto Rico in 2009. In 2006, Chen allowed two runs and four hits in five innings against Cuba, which won 8-6 in 10 innings.
The Royals have approved of his involvement in the WBC, Chen said. However, since the WBCs creation, there have been some people who have questioned why it is played in spring training.
Chen, who would travel to Japan for Chinas opener on March 3, is a big fan.
I love the World Baseball Classic, he said. I really enjoy representing my country. It is not something I could have done without the World Baseball Classic.
That helped me become the pitcher I am, the pressure when the game is on the line, thats what we all try for. We all play to win the World Series, and thats as close to the World Series as you can get. I really enjoy participating.
Panama failed to qualify for this years WBC, but Chen said he was contacted by China three or four weeks ago. There were four reasons why he was open to pitching for China.
One, Ill be representing my ancestry, China and my grandparents, Chen said. Two, Ill be representing the Kansas City Royals. Three, Ill be representing Major League Baseball, because Ill be the only major-league player playing for China, and four, Ill be representing Panama, because there are no Panamanians in the World Baseball Classic.
Its a huge honor Ive been presented. Im very intrigued with the possibility of playing for China.
To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/pgrathoff