Chen with the Kansas City Royals
June 19, 1977 |
Panama City, Panama
|September 7, 1998 for the Atlanta Braves|
(through 2014 season)
|Earned run average||4.58|
Bruce Kastulo Chen (born June 19, 1977) is a Panamanian professional baseball pitcher who is currently a free agent. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.
- 1 Background
- 2 Career
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Chen is of Chinese descent. His paternal grandfather, Kuen Chin Chan Lee, joined his brothers and other relatives in Panama at age nine. Bruce's maternal grandmother, Kuen Yin Liu de Laffo, was born in Panama, but her family had to return to China after fire destroyed their home. After years of hard labor, she was able to return to Panama at age 24. Both of Bruce's grandparents have died, but he hopes to reconnect with his Chinese roots someday. Chen has two other siblings, a brother and a sister. Chen attended Panamerican Institute and studied civil engineering during the baseball off-season at Georgia Tech.
Chen signed with the Atlanta Braves as an amateur free agent on July 1, 1993. He made the South Atlantic League All-Star team in 1997 when he went 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 28 starts for the Macon Braves. In 1998 he made 23 starts for the Greenville Braves and was 13-7 with a 3.29 ERA. He was selected by the Southern League as an All-Star and the Most Outstanding Pitcher. He was also a Double-A All-Star, Baseball America minor league All-Star and the Braves minor league pitcher of the year.
He made his Major League debut with the Braves on September 7, 1998 against the New York Mets. He started the game but only lasted three innings while allowing 4 runs on 6 hits. He picked up his first win, when he went seven innings on September 12 against the Florida Marlins. He remained with the Braves through mid-2000, pitching in 42 games (starting 11) and was 8-2 with a 4.28 ERA.
He was traded by the Braves to the Philadelphia Phillies on July 12, 2000 (with Jimmy Osting) for Andy Ashby. He was a full-time starter with the Phillies, starting 31 games with a 7-9 record and 4.28 ERA. While playing for the Phillies, Chen had a loyal group of fans known as "The Chen Pen".
New York Mets
Chen was traded again, on April 5, 2002 to the Montreal Expos (with Luis Figueroa, Saul Rivera and Dicky Gonzalez) for Phil Seibel, Scott Strickland and Matt Watson. He made 15 appearances (only 4 starts) for the Expos and was 2-3 with a 6.99 ERA.
Released by the Reds, he was signed as a free agent by the Houston Astros on March 14, 2003. He appeared in only 11 games and had an ERA of 6.00 with the Astros.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox selected him off waivers from the Astros on May 7, 2003. He appeared in 5 games for the Red Sox, with 2 starts and had a 5.11 ERA.
Toronto Blue Jays
He was sent to the Baltimore Orioles on May 1, 2004. He added a changeup to his repertoire of pitches, which includes an 87–90 mph fastball, and a slow 12–6 curveball. His 11 starts for the Orioles, from the end of 2004 through the 2005 season, indicated that he was well on his way to fulfilling the enormous potential that made him such a highly regarded prospect earlier in his career – but that turned out not to be true.
In 2006, Chen appeared to have regressed. He went 0–7 with a 6.93 earned run average (ERA), starting 12 games, but appearing in 28 others coming out of the bullpen. After pitching for an entire season without a win, the Orioles declined to re–sign Chen, and he filed for free agency on November 1, 2006.
Chen signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers on February 6, 2007, with an invitation to spring training. Chen made the Rangers' opening day roster, taking a spot in the bullpen. He was reported to have reworked his contract to accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma if room was needed on the roster.
Kansas City Royals
On March 1, 2009, Chen signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals. He made his debut with the Royals on June 27, 2009. He allowed 4 runs in 71⁄3 innings. Chen's second start was much better, as he only gave up two runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. On August 6, 2009, Chen won his first major league game since October 2, 2005.
Chen re-signed a minor league contract with the Royals on December 11, 2009. On April 26, 2010, he earned his first Major League save, in a 3–1 Royals victory over the Seattle Mariners. He threw seven perfect innings before allowing a hit on July 20, 2010 against the Los Angeles Angels.
On October 1, 2010, in his last start of the season, Chen threw a two-hit shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out seven and only walking two. It was the first shutout he has thrown in his Major League career. He finished the season with a 12–7 record, and an ERA of 4.17.
In 2012, Chen finished with an 11-14 record and posted an ERA of 5.07. Despite the regression, Chen threw 191.2 innings (2nd highest career total) and had a career high 140 strikeouts.
He returned to the Royals for the 2014 season, agreeing to a one year contract.  On July 22, he tied Mariano Rivera for most wins earned by a Panamanian-born player with 82. He was designated for assignment on August 29, 2014 and released on September 5.
World Baseball Classic
Chen pitched for Panama in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006, working five innings, giving up four hits, two runs (both earned), and a walk, with three strikeouts, against a powerful Cuba team in the opening round of the tournament at San Juan, Puerto Rico. He also pitched for Panama in 2009.
- Arangure, Jorge (2006-04-05). "Chen Grew From Distinct Roots". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- Kaegal, Dick (December 23, 2011). "Chen cherishes holiday trips home to Panama". MLB.com. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
- Kaegel, Dick (2010-07-08). "Written off, Chen having turnaround season". MLB.com. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Bucs' homer puts damper on Chen's return | royals.com: News
- Chen's wait over with convincing win | royals.com: News
- Kaegel, Dick (November 23, 2011). "Royals, Chen agree to two-year contract". MLB.com. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
- "Report: Bruce Chen, Royals agree". ESPN.com. Associated Press. November 23, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
- "Lefty Bruce Chen will return to Royals for 2014". Kansas City Star. January 30, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- Kaegel, Dick (July 23, 2014). "Chen ties Mariano for Panamanian wins mark". MLB.com. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
- "Kansas City Royals cut LHP Bruce Chen". ESPN.com. Associated Press. August 29, 2014. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
- "Veteran pitcher Bruce Chen released by Royals". ESPN.com. Associated Press. September 5, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- Kaegel, Dick (2013-01-13). "Chen may join Team China for Classic". MLB.com. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)