The WBC in a nutshell: Panamanian pitcher wants to play for China

10 Comments

Despite a lot of people assuming that he’s Asian based on the name, Bruce Chen is second generation Panamanian. But he wants to pitch for China in the WBC. Which is leading to some logistical issues, reports Pete Grathoff of the KC Star:

Any questions about a player’s 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. “I’m talking about 60, 70 years ago, and we cannot find the Chinese one. That’s in China, 70 years ago, I don’t even know how they recorded that. When they moved to Panama, they were not thinking, ‘Let me bring my birth certificate from China.’

Chen pitched for Panama for the past two WBCs.

I’m not the biggest WBC fan, but I kind of like this aspect of it. If I was a baseball player I’d get to pick (presumably) between team USA, team Ireland, team England, team Romania — they have that, right? — and depending on whether mere names as opposed to actual blood was enough, team Italy (it’s complicated).

Probably have to go with team Romania. That would probably be the most fun team.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
3 Comments

Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.