Taipei, Taiwanese pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo (???) announced his retirement Monday night after his team was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL).
"I have no regrets over my career," the 37-year-old left-hander said after his Fubon Guardians lost to the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions 9-8 at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium.
The loss meant the New Taipei team lost the best-of-five playoff series 3-1, sending the Lions to face the Lamigo Monkeys in the CPBL's championship series.
In his final professional game, Kuo threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings as a reliever in the eighth and ninth innings. He was removed after walking two Lions batters.
Before he left the mound for the final time, Kuo went down on one knee and symbolically kissed the mound to mark the end of his professional career before waving to the capacity crowd to bid fans farewell.
Asked if he regretted how his career ended, the former Los Angeles Dodger said he had no regrets.
"Life is not perfect," he said, adding that with his health issues, he was just really glad he could return to the game he loves and fight alongside his teammates.
Kuo said he was fortunate to have so many people help him through his injuries so that he could continue playing and enjoy a long career.
"I'm just happy my career could end in the place (on the baseball field) I love most," he said.
He said he will now spend more time with his family and will be happy to contribute his knowledge to Taiwan baseball if called upon.
The hard-throwing Kuo overcame two Tommy John surgeries early in his career in 2000 and 2003 to pitch for the Dodgers. He was also diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor before the 2018 season began, but joined the Guardians in July after recovering.
The Taiwanese southpaw was with the Dodgers for most of the seven seasons from 2005 to 2011.
His best year was 2010, when he was named to the National League All-Star team as a replacement for Jason Heyward, becoming the first Taiwanese to make a major league All-Star roster.
He made the team after a first half in which he retired 36 straight lefty hitters at one point, and he finished the year with a 3-2 record, 12 saves, and a 1.20 ERA in 56 relief appearances.
He wrapped up his MLB career with a 13-17 record with a 3.73 ERA, 13 saves, and 345 strikeouts in 218 appearances.
Kuo came back to Taiwan to join the Uni-President 7-11 Lions in 2013 after signing a three-year contract worth NT$40.8 million (US$1.33 million), making him the highest paid player in CPBL history.
Due to injuries, however, he spent most of the time with the Lions' minor league team and did not play a game for the Lions in the 2013 season.
He was not offered a new contract after his three-year deal expired and later joined the Guardians in July 2017.
In 117 games he played in the CPBL, he had a 5-14 record and an ERA of 3.81.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel