A young baseball player from China is now in spring training in Florida hoping to make U.S. baseball history. CCTV America’s Nitza Soledad Perez reports.
Chinese baseball player has MLB aspirationsA young baseball player from China is now in spring training in Florida hoping to make U.S. baseball history. CCTV America's Nitza Soledad Perez reports.
Twenty-year-old Xu Guiyuan is trying to become the first player from China to make it big in U.S. Major League Baseball.
The left-handed first baseman already made history last summer when he became the first player signed from one of the U.S. league’s three development centers in China — A country that American baseball officials said may be the next hot spot to explode their sport.
Now, he’s joined the Baltimore Orioles for minor league spring training in Florida.
“When the Orioles scouts come, I hit a home run that day, took a BP very well, so they gave me a chance to come here,” Xu said.
Xu has adopted the nickname “Itchy Shoe”. Itchy refers to his idol, Ichiro Suzuki, a Japanese professional player for the Miami Marlins and Shoe makes it easier for his American friends to pronounce his name.
Itchy is learning English and adapting to a new culture.
“I play with the other players. They are all big guys, but look at me. I’m a skinny guy. But it’s a little bit different, in my heart. I have to face the challenge,” Xu said.
His teammates welcome his presence and his talent.
“He’s not really bad at much. He’s a good fielder, he’s a good hitter, he’s a good teammate so he’s the guy you want at your team,” Baltimore Orioles prospect Seamus Curran said.
Itchy said he’s concentrating on getting better, while enjoying his favorite American take-out food: Chipotle. He communicates frequently with his family, especially his mother.
“When I face time with them, always my ma talks to me. I have no chance to say something — she has a lot of things to say: Be careful, be safe, have fun,” he said.
“My big dream is to make the Big League.”
Journalist Mark Gray on Chinese athletes in U.S. professional sports
CCTV America interviewed Mark Gray, a sports talk show host at WJFK-FM 106.7 on CBS Radio and the CEO of HSRadio and SportsGroove TV, about the growing number of Chinese athletes in U.S. sports.