KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — They’re not exactly printing up the tickets yet, but don’t be surprised if the Dodgers’ exhibition games on this island nation this weekend someday lead to games here that count in the standings.

“Despite the rainout yesterday, I think it was an unmitigated success,” said Jim Small, vice president of MLB Asia. “What it does is allow us to consider playing in-season games and an Opening Day here. We’re not there yet in terms of all the details, such as facilities and hotels and such. But I think, by design, this was a dry run for having in-season games here and, yeah, I think we probably can.”

Setting aside the 15-hour flight and jet lag, there wouldn’t be too much argument from the Dodgers, who issued rave reviews from their time in Taiwan.

“You don’t realize how you touch people the way we do, even when they don’t know your name, just the uniform,” said catcher Lucas May, one of six Dodgers who also made the 2008 goodwill trip to China.

The people here love baseball and are in awe of the Dodgers. The history of China was interesting, with the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. But here, the people know their baseball and are so friendly and respectful. They’re always smiling and that goes a long way.”

The series was originally scheduled for two games, but sold out so quickly that organizers added a third game, only for Saturday’s rainout to turn it back into a two-game series. Local promoters reportedly took a huge financial hit because of the rainout.

But they couldn’t complain about the cooperation from Manny Ramirez. Skeptics suggest it was the result of a reported $170,000 fee he received for a pair of appearances. Included was one Saturday night at a local batting cage at which he judged a Manny lookalike contest, patiently participated in a 30-minute question-and-answer session with fans and posed for photos, so long that organizers finally ushered him out or he might still be there.

When the mayor of Kaohsiung threw out the first pitch at Sunday’s series finale, the catcher was Ramirez.

“I love the food, and the people treat you with respect,” Ramirez told the crowd Saturday night. “I’m planning to come back and enjoy myself.”

Ramirez wasn’t the only Dodger to get paid. All of the players will receive a fee from gate proceeds that will probably be about double the $3,000 each received from the China trip.

Along with the check, they’ll bring back valuable memories.

“It was better than I expected, a pleasant surprise,” said infielder Jamey Carroll. “I knew there would be a lot of support, but it’s been crazy. The autograph session yesterday was fun. It was a madhouse, even though it was pouring rain. I’m happy I came. Definitely worth the experience.”

James Loney said he’s not surprised that players had a better time in Taiwan than China.

“The people here were excited to see us play. I didn’t really hear that from the guys coming back from China,” said Loney. “I guess it’s not as intense there as it is here. I feel the people here look to us as important to them. The fans are very knowledgeable about the game. They know our team pretty well.

“I’m glad I came, I enjoyed it. A lot of guys didn’t want to go after the China trip. I knew Taiwan as a country is a little ahead of China as far as the economy has developed. In China, most people are still trying to become more advanced. Here they have a TGIF and a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. We went to the Nike Store, normal things you would do back home. Most people I encountered knew English. And they were real friendly people.”

Joe Torre said he enjoyed the entire trip, and appreciated the ever-present security, especially when he stopped to sign autographs at the team hotel and was nearly swallowed by the surrounding mob.

“The people have been terrific,” Torre said. “The cities are very clean. I’m still not going to put a lot of weight on from eating the food, but they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. The security has been great. And it’s been necessary, because of the enthusiasm of the people.”

After a Saturday night off in Taipei — in which many players visited the Night Market and tasted some of the more exotic Taiwanese delicacies — the travel party took a 90-minute bullet train ride south to Kaohsiung and the series finale, played in hot and humid conditions at the 20,000-seat Kaohsiung County Stadium.

After the game, the Dodgers were to fly back to Phoenix, expecting to land around 6 p.m. Sunday night. Players on the trip will be given Monday off, with Tuesday a scheduled off-day for the entire club.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball


Torre holds managerial forum in Taiwan
Tells group of baseball officials to lead with common sense

By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com

03/12/10 11:20 PM EST

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Joe Torre’s managerial philosophy, evolving from motherly advice at home as much as his 6,300 games in uniform, was passed along to 50 coaches and baseball officials Saturday morning in the Joe Torre Forum held at Tienmou Stadium.

If the Dodgers’ three-game goodwill series in Taiwan is nothing else, it is a chance for baseball to further its growth in Asia. Taiwan has already produced a handful of Major Leaguers — Torre having managed three in New York and Los Angeles — and MLB sees the nation as a growth market.

And the nation’s baseball leadership views Torre as the manager’s manager, the ideal teacher for those trying to prepare the next wave of exports to the Major Leagues.

Despite the quick turnaround from night game to morning seminar, Torre’s sense of humor was sharp when asked the secret to being a good coach.

“Have good players,” he said.

He opened his presentation with what he called simple, basic principles of managing people.

“I try to deal with players the way I wanted to be managed as a player,” he said. “There’s no magic formula. Manage with common sense. Don’t ever forget what it was like as a player. They are all different people with one goal. You can treat them differently, but fairly.”

Torre said managers have the right to expect hard work, preparation and a team approach from their players.

“My mom used to say that you earn everything you get and nobody gives you anything for nothing,” he said. “I tell my players, ‘You don’t always control wins and losses, but you can control how you go about your business.’ I always felt you play for the player in the locker next to you. Perform and think as a team. When you win, everybody gets the same ring.”

Drawing a comparison to a parent raising a child in today’s society, Torre said managers have had to change in the way they interact with their players.

“You used to tell them to do something and when they’d ask why, you’d say, ‘Because I told you so.’ With free agency, that doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “The manager needs to have the ability to tell a player what to do and explain why, so if the same situation comes up again, you don’t want them not to know what to do. You develop trust that way. And respect. There’s no magic dust. It’s hard work.”

In explaining his success, Torre not only drew from his years with the Yankees, where he managed four World Series championships, but from some of the lean years with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals.

“The Yankees won four World Series when I was there, but I learned my managing skills long before the Yankees,” he said. “I got to the Yankees and the work ethic that I believed in started to be successful for me. Most of the work was done before I got there.”

Torre mentioned Atlanta’s Bobby Cox, St. Louis’ Tony La Russa and the Angels’ Mike Scioscia among the managers he admires because of “the way their teams behave.”

Torre said he tells his players to “think small and big things happen. We get excited with players who hit home runs or pitchers that get a lot of strikeouts. The game is won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Our team made some mistakes last night and that’s why we came out on the short end.”

In Friday night’s series opener, a team of Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars defeated a Dodgers split-squad, 5-2, with the Dodgers getting only three singles. Included in Torre’s morning audience was W.S. Lu, introduced as the manager of the winning CPBL All-Stars.

“He should be sitting up here,” Torre suggested.

Torre praised the “disciplined” play of the Taiwan All-Stars Friday night and suggested that the level of play in this island nation was “better than Triple-A.”

“They played very flawless in the way they beat us. Stay with us. We’ll win a game here sooner or later,” Torre joked. “I told our players they are representing our country and MLB, and we want to show people how we play the game. We are proud to wear the uniform of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”

Told that the Taiwan national team was ranked No. 5 in the world, with the United States third, Torre said: “Based on last night’s game, I’m surprised we’re third.”

Torre was questioned on his communication skills, which he boiled down to one word.

“Honesty,” he said.

While Torre was speaking, two of his players did an autograph signing at the MLB Store downtown. Friday night starting pitcher Eric Stults and infielder Jamey Carroll were met by a mob scene when they arrived for the hour session.

About 300 fans were in line for the event, and the players were presented glass statues as gifts for their appearance.



Chien-Ming Wang is one of the most important pitchers on the Yankees and, presumably, will become even more valuable in the future. He shows as much emotion as someone who is napping. He produces grounders almost as steadily as a coach tapping them to infielders.

Wang, has become a lynchpin to the Yankees since joining them unceremoniously in 2005. He’s also become a hero in his home country of Taiwan.
The right-handed pitcher depends mostly on a four-seam fastball around 96 miles an hour. But, he also has in his arsenal a diving sinker, a slider, a changeup and a split-finger fastball.

Wang Quiets the Red Sox With His Stoic Way
Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Chien-Ming Wang gave up two hits and did not walk any batters in nine innings pitched on Friday night.

BOSTON — He has never thrown a no-hitter, like Clay Buchholz, or had a shutdown performance in the World Series, like Josh Beckett. He never captured the imaginations of Yankees fans as an electrifying rookie, like Phil Hughes, and he is not as accomplished as Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte or Curt Schilling.

But there is no pitcher in the majors with as many victories as Chien-Ming Wang since the start of the 2006 season. He is efficient and dependable for the Yankees, a quiet, stoic and steady presence in their rivalry with the Boston Red Sox.When the teams met at Fenway Park on Friday for the first time this season, it was Wang who took over.

Wang pitched a two-hitter in a 4-1 victory before 37,624 fans, the largest crowd at Fenway Park since World War II. Jason Giambi homered for the Yankees and José Molina doubled twice, but Wang was the star.

“He’s become the ace of our staff, there’s no doubt about it, and tonight he pitched as well as anybody could pitch,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. “He seems to be refining his repertoire on how to attack hitters, and that’s a great thing. Right now, he’s at the top of his game.”

Wang used 93 pitches to silence the Red Sox, who had seen 212 pitches Thursday against Detroit. He faced two batters over the minimum, and for eight and two-thirds innings, Boston’s only hit was a fifth-inning homer by J. D. Drew that just eluded Bobby Abreu at the wall in right-center field.

Coco Crisp added a bunt single with two outs in the ninth, but Dustin Pedroia lined to left to end the game. It was the fourth career complete game for Wang, who is 3-0 so far and 41-13 over the past three seasons. He called this start the best of his career.

“I feel especially good about this one because I threw it in Boston, and before, I didn’t do very well in Boston,” Wang said through an interpreter. “So I think this is my best game so far.”

The Yankees and the Red Sox are known for lengthy games, with pitchers nibbling at the corners of the strike zone, hitters swatting fouls and managers churning through bullpens. On Friday, though, Wang neutralized the Red Sox by pounding the zone with sinkers and four-seam fastballs.
“They just didn’t look comfortable,” Giambi said. “Boston is almost an exact mirror team as us — guys who take a lot of pitches, take their walks and do a lot of damage by hitting home runs. He threw a lot of strikes and caught them off-guard.”

Wang came into the game with a 6.17 earned run average at Fenway, largely because of the sluggers Manny Ramírez and David Ortiz, who had combined for a .538 average off him. Because of that — and because of the playoff beating he took from the Cleveland Indians last fall — Wang had vowed to change his approach this season.

He worked on his slider and changeup in spring training, and though his results were poor then, he used the slider effectively Friday, striking out Ramírez with it in the seventh inning.

Wang said he also used more four-seamers than usual, attacking Ortiz with that pitch in the first inning, when Ortiz struck out. His next time up, Ortiz swung at a first-pitch sinker and bounced into a double play.

“We didn’t take anything away from him,” the pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “We just added some things to complement him.”

Buchholz, who pitched a no-hitter last September in his previous Fenway start, held the Yankees to one hit through four innings. But he walked three in the fifth, and Molina’s first double drove in a run.

It was a long half-inning, and when Wang returned, he was not sharp. His pitches flattened as his arm angle dropped, and the Red Sox smashed four fly balls. Drew’s came with two out and backed Abreu to the warning track.

Abreu is rarely smooth around walls, and when he leaped, his right shoulder hit the padding on the fence. That brought down his glove a few inches, and Drew’s ball grazed the fingertips before landing in the Red Sox bullpen.

Abreu said he should have made the catch, and he felt bad for missing it. The feeling grew worse as the game went on, the “1” staying stuck in the Red Sox hit column until the very end.

“I saw the innings going and going,” Abreu said. “A lot of things went through my head.”

The Red Sox, meanwhile, rued their missed opportunities in the fifth. Ramírez and Kevin Youkilis had also flied out to Abreu, and Jason Varitek mashed a ball to the warning track in center. But only Drew’s went out.

“There were times in the game when he threw his two-seamer middle, and then it went away and we just got it not quite off the barrel,” Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said. “The game plan was to get it up and stay in the middle of the field, and we did at times. We had nothing to show for it.”

Buchholz left after six innings with the score tied, 1-1. His replacement was Mike Timlin, who had missed the first 10 games with a lacerated right ring finger. Giambi — 1 for 20 this season, 2 for 17 in his career against Timlin — was the first hitter he faced.

“I just tried to hit it hard, nothing special,” Giambi said. “I was just trying to put it in play, because I knew he had good success against me.”

With a full count, Giambi did much better than he hoped. He launched a fastball onto a platform next to the center field cameras, breaking the 1-1 tie.

It put a lead in the hands of Wang, a pitcher the Yankees are thrilled to have at the front of their rotation, with no apologies.


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