The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed or traded for multiple reclamation projects in recent years. In some instances it worked in their favor, other times it didn’t. It’s how transactions in sports go.
What took place Friday night at Dodger Stadium far exceeds previous fliers the Dodgers have taken on players. With the Dodgers trailing the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0, Chin-hui Tsao came on in relief for his first Major League appearance since 2007.
The Taiwanese native allowed a pair of base hits, though Jean Segura was caught stealing before Scooter Gennett singled to left-center, in a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. “I’m very happy,” Tsao said through an interpreter after his 2015 debut. “I feel like I’m dreaming.”
Afer his lone season with the Dodgers in 2007, Tsao spent 2008 in the Kansas City Royals’ Minor League system. He appeared in seven Triple-A games that season, then moved on to the Chinese Pro Baseball League the following year.
Tsao’s playing career came to a screeching halt when he was banned for his alleged involvement in a game-fixing scandal. In the five years out of baseball he opened a restaurant while still managing to keep some connection to the sport.
“I did not pitch every day, but I trained,” he said. “I was a little uncomfortable when I got suspended. But I tried to train myself and I started feeling better and better the more I trained.” Tsao admitted to being nervous as he warmed in the bullpen Friday, though said the feeling subsided once he took the mound.
With MLB’s approval the Dodgers signed Tsao to a Minor League deal in January. It did not include an invitation to big league camp, though he pitched in six Cactus League games and had encouraging results. No matter what role Tsao plays for the Dodgers moving forward, it’s evident he’s found satisfaction in making the improbable comeback.