We have an interesting move from the Texas AirHogs (independent; American Association), as 30 members of the Chinese National Baseball Team will rotate in and out of the AirHogs roster.
Thirty members of the Chinese National Baseball Team (known as the Beiiing Shougang Eagles) will train at AirHogs Stadium and rotate as players on the Texas AirHogs roster. The team is sponsored by Shougang Sports. This will be the first time in history that a National Team has played a season as part of a professional baseball league in the United States.
The combined roster will be regularly referred to as the Texas AirHogs–powered by Beijing Shougang Eagles.
“This is a partnership we really value a lot with the CBA and Shougang Sports,” said new AirHogs skipper John McLaren. “We are very thankful for getting the opportunity to do this.”
McLaren replaced Terry Collins as the manager of Team China at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, guiding the team to an upset over Chinese Taipei in the tournament’s opening round. He once again managed Team China at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and continues to serve in his managerial capacity for Team China.
“Shougang Sports has been sponsoring us, and playing in the American Association this summer will be a major step for us in moving forward. Hopefully, greater things come from this,” said McLaren, who began his involvement with Team China in 2011.
The coaching staff will also include Song Pingshan, a manager of the Beijing Tigers in the Chinese Baseball League as well a manager and coach for Team China at international tournaments like the Asia Games and the Baseball World Cup since 1992. Yi Sheng, who has also coached and managed for Beijing and Team China, and Chen Kun, a member of the Sichuan Dragons who has represented Team China in international tournaments dating back to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, will join McLaren’s staff as assistants. Other coaches will include Chen Biao, Ren Qiuge, and player-coach Na Chuang.
The AirHogs opened play at home with a 7-5 loss to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Four Team China players were in the starting lineup and three relief pitchers.
Photo courtesy Texas AirHogs.