HOUSTON -- The surprising return of Royals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to the big leagues has brought back one lesser consequence, at least in his eyes: The Taiwan media is back on his trail, watching and chronicling his every move.Wang, who hadn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013 until last
HOUSTON -- The surprising return of Royals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to the big leagues has brought back one lesser consequence, at least in his eyes: The Taiwan media is back on his trail, watching and chronicling his every move.
Wang, who hadn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013 until last Saturday, is followed by several Taiwan reporters each day. He is asked questions before and after games, whether he pitches or not.
During Spring Training, a Taiwan media group filmed him almost every day for a documentary.
Though Wang said the number of Taiwan media these days doesn't approach the number from his Yankees days 10 years ago, it is still a part of his daily life that he tolerates, but not always cherishes.
"I don't mind it," a smiling Wang said through an interpreter, "but I would like it if there was no media."
Then again, sometimes the Taiwan media can be helpful in combating loneliness: Wang can't speak in his native Mandarin to any of his new teammates.
"Sometimes it's good to speak Mandarin," Wang said. "But I also have to try to speak English with my teammates."
Wang's English certainly is serviceable, and he speaks in slow, low and deliberate tones, in a style much like his approach on the mound.
Wang, 36, said it finally hit him last weekend that he actually is back in the big leagues.
"The first time I pitched in the ninth inning [Saturday] it hit me," he said. "Before that [in Spring Training] it felt kind of fake."
After spending the past two years in the Minors, Wang got just one call of interest this offseason -- from the Royals. Without that call, he may have retired.
"If the Royals don't call me in the offseason," he said, "maybe [I would've played] in Taiwan or something."
Left-hander Mike Minor, who is in extended spring workouts as he rehabs from labrum surgery, pitched in his first game Tuesday and was impressive. Scouts said he touched 96 mph with his fastball and sat comfortably around 93 mph. He likely will stay in extended spring until June or so.
The Royals have received permission from Major League Baseball to wear their gold-trimmed uniforms -- the ones they wore the first two games of the season -- for each Friday home game the rest of the season.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.