Chen still looking to join China in Classic

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals left-hander Bruce Chen still doesn't know if he'll be pitching for China in the World Baseball Classic next month.

At issue is satisfying officials that Chen's grandparents were born in China. They moved to Panama where Chen was born in 1977. He played for Panama in previous Classics, but the team was eliminated in the qualifying round last November. So Chen enlisted with China and practiced with the team three days last week in Peoria, Ariz.

"I don't have any birth certificates from China," Chen said. "I'm giving them everything I can and seeing what I can find. They want me to play, but they want to be sure everything checks out good."

Chen has been working out at the Royals' complex -- he lives nearby -- and wants to get the matter settled soon. Right now, he doesn't know if he's preparing for Classic tournament play or strictly to compete for the Royals' rotation.

"I have to make a decision soon because it's not fair for the Royals, it's not fair for Team China," Chen said.

China opens Classic play in Japan on March 3 against the host country, but has some exhibition games prior to that.

"I have to prepare myself. If I'm going to pitch for China, I have to make sure I'm ready because those games are important," Chen said. "It's not like Spring Training where you're working on stuff to get your arm strong. I already have to have my arm strong."

Meantime, the search for documentation of his grandparents' birth in China continues. Papers to that effect found in Panama apparently are not sufficient.

"They want a direct link," Chen said.