Chien-Ming Wang, as his general manager once put it, is like Michael Jordan in his native Taiwan. A flock of reporters, armed with cameras, usually follow Wang around at Nationals Park, chronicling every update: Wang’s comeback from injury, his insertion into the rotation and now back into the bullpen.
Along the way, one man has been unwittingly thrust into the homes of Taiwanese baseball fans: Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty.
With every new development on Wang, a throng of Taiwanese reporters interviews McCatty on camera in English, which then get subtitles added before being aired back home.
“Someone told me that Wang could run for president,” said McCatty, a 58-year-old with a quick wit. “I think it was John Hsu, his interpreter. I said, ‘Wang, if you run for president, I’ll be your vice-president.’ He said, ‘Okay.’”
Wang, 32, in his seventh major-league season, built a cult-like following in his country after winning 19 games in consecutive years with the Yankees in 2006 and 2007. But Wang is a reserved person and doesn’t always like the attention he has received.
“It’s good but it’s too much,” he said.
Nearly a dozen Chinese and Taiwanese reporters were at Camden Yards on Saturday to report on Wang but also to see 26-year-old Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, a rookie starter who has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles.
Wang said he has seen McCatty’s face on Taiwanese television and found it humorous.
“The people that are listening to me talk there are the same as here: They don’t understand me,” McCatty said with a laugh.
Sure, Manager Davey Johnson gets his share of Wang questions, too. But McCatty is the expert on Wang’s delivery, mechanics and more.
McCatty said he doesn’t mind having to answer constant questions about Wang, but he does find it funny that he is a face of baseball on the other side of the world.
“I laugh because I know it always happens,” he said. “When you got a good guy like [Wang], they’re interested.”