Playing the final game of his baseball career in China's 7-1 loss to Japan on Friday, Ray Chang made the most of the moment.The 33-year-old infielder -- who retired at the end of China's World Baseball Classic run to take over as manager of the MLB Development Center in Nanjing
Playing the final game of his baseball career in China's 7-1 loss to Japan on Friday, Ray Chang made the most of the moment.
The 33-year-old infielder -- who retired at the end of China's World Baseball Classic run to take over as manager of the MLB Development Center in Nanjing -- laced a two-out RBI single against Japan in the third inning, driving in his country's first run of the tournament.
"The last inning right there, I was just trying to soak it all in," said Chang. "You can't really beat the atmosphere for it being your last game on a baseball field. I'm proud of the boys. They played so well. They really did."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Chang is a former Twins Minor Leaguer who was on the verge of making the Majors in 2011 before heartbreakingly fracturing his fibula in a fluke outfield collision in Triple-A the night before his callup. His parents are Chinese immigrants who opened a restaurant in Kansas City, where he was born.
"With everything that Major League Baseball has done, and all the hard work the Chinese Federation has put into baseball, they've made my job a lot easier than it was before," Chang said. "I'm really excited to try and take these guys to the next level, and hopefully help baseball take the next step."
But first, there was one more game to play. Facing Japanese right-hander Shota Takeda with runners on first and second in the third, Chang smacked an opposite-field line drive to right, bringing home Fujia Chu.
"It was really cool to feel that rush of adrenaline again, to get that knock in that situation," Chang said.
It wasn't Chang's first big hit for China in the World Baseball Classic. In 2013, his go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning against Brazil gave China the win it needed to qualify for this year's World Baseball Classic. Participating in the international event is huge for the sport in China, and many of the Chinese players were overcome with emotion after the victory.
Even though China didn't get that win in this World Baseball Classic, Chang said the progress and improvements in Chinese baseball have been amazing since he first became involved in 2008.
"We'll be back," Chang said. "I know we didn't win a game and qualify for the next run, but we'll be back. No doubt about it."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com.