After getting paycheck, Wang makes debut
MILWAUKEE -- Left-hander Wei-Chung Wang received his first Major League paycheck on Monday afternoon, and then the Brewers made him earn it.
It was a day of firsts for Wang, a 21-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick who is rated the Brewers' No. 11 prospect by MLB.com. He saw snow for the first time thanks to a rare April dusting in Wisconsin, then he received his pay in front of teammates, who were so delighted they gave Wang an ovation while he held the envelope in the air.
Hours later, with the Brewers trailing the Cardinals by four runs in the ninth inning, he made his long-awaited big league debut. Wang surrendered a two-out single to Pete Kozma, but he retired the other three hitters he faced on flyouts.
"I tried to pretend I'm not nervous," Wang said through his translator, Jay Hsu.
Was he nervous?
"I was nervous inside," Wang said. "First time, [one is] always nervous."
Manager Ron Roenicke had been seeking a low-pressure situation for Wang's Major League debut, but he could not find one before Monday because the Brewers had been playing -- and winning -- so many close games. The best opportunity came after the Brewers built a 10-4 lead last week in Philadelphia, but the ninth inning of that win went to right-hander Jim Henderson. Roenicke had prioritized getting Henderson on track after a slow start.
While waiting to pitch, Wang shadowed Tyler Thornburg, who began the season as the Brewers' long man, as well as fellow left-handers Zach Duke and Will Smith.
On Monday, he finally joined them on the stat sheet. Wang became the 11th Taiwanese player to appear in the Major Leagues, including eight pitchers. He is the first Taiwan-born player in Brewers history.
"That's pretty impressive at his age, to go that long without pitching and come in and do the same thing he was doing for us in Spring Training," Roenicke said. "That's pretty good."
Back home in Taiwan, Wang's family and friends were eagerly awaiting his debut. Taipei is 13 hours ahead of Milwaukee.
"They are texting me, 'When will you pitch?'" Wang said. "I say, 'You guys can go to sleep.' I'm afraid they stay up so late; it's bad for their health."
Monday's snowfall was a surprise. Wang told reporters that when he walked outside to catch his ride to the ballpark on Monday, a few flakes fell on his iPad. He looked up and said he wondered, "Is this snow? Wow!"
"I have seen it on TV," Wang said. "I'm wishing it was heavier. I know everybody doesn't like it, but I just want to see it."