Chen warmly welcomed in Tribe's front office

Mutual respect accompanies MLB veteran's new job as Minor League cultural development coordinator

Chen warmly welcomed in Tribe's front office

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Bruce Chen stood outside the doors to the Indians' clubhouse on Tuesday morning, and he could not escape. As players exited, they would stop, smile and throw their arms around the former pitcher for a hug.

Following his retirement last season, which put the final touches on a 17-year Major League career, Chen accepted a job with Cleveland as a Minor League cultural development coordinator. The Indians were the last of 11 teams that Chen suited up for in the big leagues, but the club has now given him his first shot at a front-office career.

Spring Training information

"Cleveland has a very good organization. They were very persistent," Chen said. "They talked to me not only in the offseason, but from the time I retired [in May]. We had some conversations, and then after September, October, November, they were trying to feel me out, whatever I wanted to try to make this work.

"It was a great situation where I could stay at home, travel, help some guys and stay in the game of baseball and also share my knowledge."

The 38-year-old Chen -- born in Panama and fluent in both Spanish and English -- will spend the next month in Spring Training with the Indians. He will also make multiple trips this year to the Dominican Republic, spend time with each Minor League affiliate and help out during instructional league and Cleveland's fall development program for prospects in September.

Chen's primary responsibility is to help acclimate players born outside the United States to life in professional baseball and in America. The former left-handed pitcher signed with the Braves in 1993 as a 16-year-old player, giving him a wealth of experience to draw upon when he talks to young players.

"I went through all the things they're going through," Chen said. "And now they have even more things that they have to be worried about, because technology keeps going faster and faster. So, the Indians are doing a really good job, and I'm really happy they're trusting me with the development of not only the Latin players, but players from Taiwan and other players not born in the United States.

"It's good. I have flexibility, but I also feel like I'm working enough where I can help and make a difference with these guys."

Tribe manager Terry Francona, who managed Chen both with the Phillies (2000) and Indians (2015), said he was thrilled that Cleveland hired the former pitcher.

"You can't find a better kid. Everybody gravitates toward him," Francona said. "The first time I met him, we traded for him when he was with the Braves and I was with the Phillies. I was trying to say in broken Spanish, 'Welcome.' He looked at me and he was like, 'Man, I speak [multiple] languages. Save it.'

"He's a smart kid, but he's funny and he's got a lot to offer. I think getting guys like that to stay in the organization is really good for us, because he could've gone anywhere."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.