NEW YORK -- It was a year ago that the spotlight fell on Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in his quest for his 3,000th hit. Now the buildup shifts to Wei-Yin Chen, only at the other end of the spectrum.
Chen is still looking for his first hit.
“I believe one day I will get a hit,” Chen said Thursday through a translator. “I just don’t know when.”
It could come as soon as Friday when Chen takes the mound for the Marlins at Citi Field -- and steps into the batter’s box for the first time this season.
“It’s pretty amazing he hasn’t thrown one out there somehow, some way,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who is convinced Chen will end the drought at some point this season.
Chen has gone 50 at bats without a hit. At the moment, he holds the distinction as being the worst hitter in Major League history, the player with the most at bats without a hit. Second on the list is former pitcher Randy Tate (0 for 41).
Jon Lester holds the record for most at bats to begin a career without a hit -- 67 -- before he finally broke the ice.
Chen has taken steps to get off the hitting schneid. He has put in extra time in the cages. He is changing bats models.
Last season, Chen borrowed Jose Fernandez’s bat to hit with.
“But he’s stronger than me and more talented than me, so he can handle that bat,” Chen said of the late pitcher. “I had a lot of good memories with him last year. But this year, I think I should just try to be myself and not try to be Jose.”
So Chen is using one of Dee Gordon’s lighter bats this season, at least to start out. He recorded a hit with one late in spring training.
“I think, physically, I’m more similar to him,” Chen said. “For me I think the lighter bat that Dee’s using is better for me.”