VIERA, Fla. - For a few minutes Wednesday afternoon, a Nationals player was swarmed by Taiwanese media, who crowded around him outside the first base dugout at Space Coast Stadium, still cameras clicking, video cameras running and note pads in hand.
Surprise, it wasn't Chien-Ming Wang, who has apparently been replaced as the media darling among his countrymen by teammate Michael Morse.
Morse toured Taiwan with a group of Major League Baseball all-stars back in November, immediately establishing himself as a hit across the Pacific. He graciously did interview after interview with the media there, and had to sneak out of his hotel because of the throng of fans awaiting him at the entrance. Even then, when trying to surreptitiously grab a slice of pizza, he noticed men with video cameras taping him while eating.
Over the winter, he received from Taiwan a specially made mitt, containing his No. 38 in two places, his name on the index finger and his nickname - "The Beast" - on the thumb. It's not major league-approved, and Morse uses Wilson products for his game gloves, but the left fielder was more than happy to show off the gift to the media in camp to cover Wang.
"The people there are so loyal and caring," he said. "They're just so awesome and warm. And they love baseball. We had a great time there. I liked Taiwan a lot and I can't wait to go back."