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Veteran outfielder Lin mourns loss to China

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Lin Wei-chu, who plays for the Hanshin Tigers, walked in the hallway at Tokyo Dome, dropping his shoulders in a clear gesture of his mourning mood.

Taiwan’s inexcusable 4-1 loss to China, which has been considered a developing nation in baseball, might have been one of the most humiliating experiences of his career. And it gave him heartbreak before his season with the Tigers starts in April.

“If you can’t score early in a game, you expect this kind of a thing,” Lin said of Saturday’s game in which his Taiwan team faced an early 1-0 deficit while it struggled to put runners on base.

“That’s a threatening part of the international game.”

The 30-year-old outfielder Lin, who hit in the No. 5 spot in the lineup, was expect to guide the young Taiwanese squad, whose average age is about 24 years old. But he could not single-handedly help his team make up for its overall lack of experience.

In fact, he failed to play up to his potential, too. Lin went 2-for-7 (.143) with no RBIs in two WBC games.

“We have a lot of young guys and I thought that once we’d get momentum, we could (win). But we gave up momentum to our opponents,” said Lin, who played Taiwan in the 2004 Athens Games, as well as the inaugural WBC and the 2006 Asia Games.

Lin, meanwhile, admitted that China, which had beaten Taiwan in the Beijing Olympics last year after a tiebreaker, is catching up rapidly, probably more rapidly than anyone could imagine.

“No doubt, China is growing up,” he said. “We have to accept the loss. You can only lose twice (by the double-elimination rule of this time’s World Baseball Classic).”

But Lin, who has been in Japan since he was in high school in Fukuoka to play baseball, warned that his native country has to get started quickly for future games at the international level.

“This is a young team,” he said. “But we have international games ahead, such as (the next WBC) in four years, among others. So we’ve got to get to prepare for those soon, (or) otherwise we’ll get kicked again.”