Bruce Kern III (肯恩) is back in Taiwan for the 2017 season and the Chinatrust Brothers starting pitcher feels like he has some unfinished business to take care of.
“I feel like I didn’t get to showcase what I’m truly made of and I wanted to come back and prove to everyone that I belong here,” Kern said of his return to professional baseball in Taiwan.
That’s because his 2016 stint in the CPBL didn’t go exactly as planned. After arriving in Taiwan in mid-August, the Stony Brook, New York native was headed back home just a few weeks later because of a nagging blister on his finger.
“Last year I came to fill one of the three [import] spots and because of my finger blister they were afraid it would keep occurring so they couldn’t take a chance with the deadline due soon,” the 28-year-old said, referring to the Aug. 31 CPBL free-agent deadline.
Kern made just two starts with the Brothers in 2016, going 0-2 with an 11.37 ERA in just 6.1 innings pitched. There was something clearly wrong with the pitcher who spent most of the 2016 season dominating with the Atlantic League with a 2.17 ERA over 62.1 innings. While Kern wouldn’t say that the blister affected his throwing on game night, he did admit that it threw off his routine between starts.
“If affected my throwing program in between starts because I simply couldn’t throw, but it only took a few days to heal. But because I wasn’t able to get my normal work in, it affected my outing.”
But from the day he was released, he knew he’d get another chance to show the organization and its fans that he belonged with the Brothers.
“When they released me last year they offered me a contract for 2017 right away,” Kern revealed.
He said that while his physical preparations for 2017 didn’t change, knowing he’d be coming to Taiwan in 2017 did have its advantages.
“From a pitching standpoint, I didn’t do anything different in my offseason. If anything, I studied the CPBL more so that I have a better understanding of how to pitch in this league.”
He also learned from those starts last summer and hopes to use the experience to help him succeed this season.
“I learned that with the fans, it’s a very high-energy game from start to finish so you need to be in control of your emotions and not rush. You can’t feed into the crowd when they’re cheering on their hitters. You need to slow down and execute your pitches.”
The former 23rd-round pick of the Colorado Rockies has been looking forward to returning to Taiwan all winter.
“It’s a great opportunity here to pitch in Taiwan and the fans are very passionate and it’s a lot of fun.”
Kern gets his start of the 2017 regular season on Thursday as his Brothers take on the defending champion Fubon Guardians.