Bruce Chen, who’s never been to China, comes out of retirement to pitch for China in WBC

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Bruce Chen works against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on Friday, May 15, 2015. (Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Former MLB pitcher Bruce Chen is ending his two-year retirement to pitch for China’s World Baseball Classic team next month. The kicker, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, is that Chen has never even been to China. 

Chen, 39, was born in Panama to parents of Chinese descent. He is eligible to compete for China in the WBC because his grandparents were born in China. 

“It’s a big opportunity for me to represent my heritage, represent the Cleveland Indians,” Chen told Nightengale, “and represent Major League Baseball. I know there’s a lot of interest in China in baseball. I’m going to try to do my best, and hopefully pull off an upset.”

Chen made two starts for the Indians in 2015 and was designated for assignment after giving up nine runs and 17 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He opted to retire rather than return to the minors. 

Chen was hired by the Indians prior to last season to help minor leaguers with the transition to pro ball. 

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