Ask the Import is a new CPBL English feature where fans get the chance to ask their favorite import players questions. First up is Lamigo Monkeys starting pitcher Zack Segovia.
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- As a pitcher, do you believe in the “彈 (Dàn) conspiracy theory”? How do you adjust mentally that your stats probably won't fully reflect your performance due to the fact that the CPBL is such an over-the-top offensive league?
Editor’s note: The “彈 (Dàn) conspiracy theory” refers to the ball having an elasticity higher than 0.58, which of course leads to an increase in home runs.
The balls... Yes, I know last year they were said to be different than in the past but I didn't personally see the test or know for sure. However, I have spoken to officials and they say they have been working to regulate the balls more this year and I trust them. Also, I don't worry about numbers or anything like the super-strong offensive lineups. I’m aware of it but that can't affect your thoughts or distract you so I just do my best for the Lamigo Monkeys.
- The weather during summer might be a pain in the neck! Have you or will you try any of traditional treatments such as 刮痧 (Guāshā, scraping/spooning) and 拔罐 (Báguàn, cupping) to deal with the heat?
Yes, for sure the weather is hot here, however, I've been very fortunate to have experienced it twice—in 2015 with the Lions in Tainan and then last year with Lamigo—so I kinda have ideas and have been dealing with it. The cupping and scraping are quite common here and for many places. The first time I saw cupping, Pedro Feliz was having it done in the Dominican and I tried it and it wasn't bad. This year, I have added that into one of the days in between my starts and have enjoyed it. It's just as common for me now as throwing a bullpen in between starts and I consider it part of my routine. I enjoy the treatment here and think it's beneficial to getting ready for the next start.
- I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the atmosphere in Taoyuan Stadium, but I'm kind of wondering how you feel about the Taiwanese cheering style? With those loud microphones/speakers nearby, and the sound of trumpets, have they ever bothered you?
The cheers are amazing and I really enjoy the loud speakers. The smoke, the fire it really has grown on me and I enjoy it a lot. However, you must understand that I have played in two Caribbean Series and Winter League in three different countries and I greatly enjoy that as well. So I embrace the passion of the fans and just enjoy the opportunity each time. Taiwan has amazing fans and it's great.
- What has the team done to help out and help you settle (do they offer language lessons, do other players tend to reach out, etc.)?
The team has been incredibly supportive. Language lessons, not at all. However, we have a translator and many people speak English and have helped in settling into the environment and culture even though I don't speak Mandarin. Even my family and kids love the setting here. Lamigo does a great job welcoming them to the stadium and checking and helping them anytime they may need something.
- What do you think a player needs to do to fully enjoy his time in Taiwan?
A player needs to play in Taiwan. Accept you’re in Taiwan. Yes, it’s professional baseball but it's not America or Japan, it's Taiwan. I’m not saying it's worse or better, it’s just different and that's okay. It's like going to a steak place and expecting pizza. You'll never fully enjoy that steak and it could be Ruth’s Chris Steak House but that doesn't matter because you were thinking pizza! So that's why I enjoy it. I know it's different and that's great.
- Do you think the CPBL is a competitive league?
Of course, the CPBL is a competitive league. It's by far the most underrated league I've ever seen. There are some really good players here and in fact, the league could have two more teams, easy, and still be competitive. Because here’s the way I put it: Imagine if there were only ten teams in the USA. How tough would the competition be? Same in Japan or any other country. It's amazing because even Mexico supports 16 teams and the league is competitive. So it's extremely hard here and a very tough league with only four teams. It's evident in the growth of the CPBL and its competitive nature by the fact that the CPBL All-Star Team beat Team Samurai Japan this past February. That's proof that the talent is strong here.
- What advice/tips can you share with the players who play abroad, whether they're Taiwanese players who play in the US or academies in Australia/Latin America, or international players coming to Taiwan?
The biggest advice I can give, and it's the same thing I told the U12 Team USA squad, is expect the unexpected. Be humble and be able to say ‘it's okay I don't know everything’. I told the kids [on Aug. 6 in the WBSC U12 final] against Taiwan that it will be loud and different than anything you've ever experienced and I've been through it many times but I can't describe that feeling and explain it till you've experienced it. Words don't do it justice. Just like playing the Brothers in Taichung. Loud speakers and many signs and fans jumping like crazy behind home plate. And it's not easy being the visiting team in Taoyuan, as I've experienced that also.
- What’s your favorite thing and least favorite thing about Taiwan baseball (it can be anything, such as the culture, the teammates, the fans, the curfew, etc.)?
My favorite thing in Taiwan is my team and the Lamigo fans. I am fortunate to have really been accepted here and enjoy coming and learning new things and just playing with the guys and watching the fans and players interact with my awesome kids and accept Luke and his crazy hair! My least favorite thing is I don't speak Chinese well enough to truly show my appreciation to the people here.
- Playing in another country is tough. Can you share some of your difficulties/sacrifices, and if/how you overcame those?
The biggest difficulty I experience here is the fact that I don't speak Chinese, however, I'm very fortunate to be able to somehow, by the grace of God, communicate and most of the time it goes well.
- As a pitcher, how would you describe 洪一中's (Lamigo manager Hung I-Chung) coaching style?
I'd describe his coaching style as a song that was famous many years ago [by DJ Khaled]: "All I Do Is Win”. And I enjoy and respect how much he has fun while doing it. The other night, after we beat Fubon, he high fived my son Luke and gave him a baseball. That is what makes this team special and it starts with No. 2.
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