Pete LaForest’s Taiwanese Adventure

Sure, Pete LaForest has a few tangible reminders of his month-long trip to Taiwan.  A few extra dollars in his wallet and a black glove with Taiwanese characters on it are the most noticeable.

However, it may be something else, something intangible that may prove to be more valuable than any of that: Renewing his ability to play third base.

LaForest, who has Major League experience with the Rays, Padres and Phillies, had not played the majority of his games at third base since 1999 when he was in Low-A coming up with Tampa Bay, and had only played 31 games at the position in the ten seasons that followed.  Having re-familiarized himself with third base in Taiwan, LaForest now finds himself filling in there at Somerset until Jeff Nettles returns after the All-Star break.

“Mostly, the adjustment is just throwing from third,” he said.

“But aside from that, I’m really comfortable there.  I came up as a third baseman with the Devil Rays, but then I got converted to catching.  In 2007 with the Padres, I played about 50 (28) games there.  I really like it over there.”

LaForest also really likes it in Somerset, and that’s why he wanted to come back.  To be able to jump right back into a pennant race…well, what’s left of one, is an added bonus.

“It’s fun, actually,” he said.

“Any time we play, we want to be put in that situation.  We want to play for a playoff spot, we want to be a contender or in first place.  You don’t want an easy job, being in last place and knowing you have no shot.  That doesn’t make your job better.  So this is fun, it makes it intense. ”  

Signed by the Sinon Bulls of the Chinese Professional Baseball League of Taiwan, the 32-year-old native of Canada was brought in as a third baseman and stayed in the Taiwanese minors, an insurance policy to Wilton Veras, who once manned the hot corner for the Boston Red Sox. 

However, with Sinon having clinched the first half, the Bulls wanted to keep Veras, who had been struggling when LaForest was brought in, as their regular third baseman as a sign of loyalty.  That made LaForest expendable, and now he’s back where he started the season, in Somerset.

“I didn’t really do what I wanted to do over there,” LaForest said.

“(Wilton) is a great guy and a great player.  It’s his fourth year in Taiwan, so by clinching a spot in the playoffs, they kind of owe him that much to leave him in there and let him figure out his swing.  I performed well in the minor leagues with them and did everything I had to do.  It’s unfortunate I didn’t get a shot, but hopefully I get another shot to go over there later this year or next year.”

In his second season of independent ball, LaForest got his first taste of playing overseas.  He had went to Japan last fall and worked out with a team over there for approximately a month, but didn’t end up playing.  He did, however, fall in love with the idea of playing overseas one day.

“I love that kind of atmosphere,” LaForest said.

“I love going new places, I have no problem adapting to anything.  I already had to do it once coming over to the States from Canada and learning English and all that.  So I’m familiar with the process and I like it.  I like trying new stuff, so it was fun.  I liked it.”

And that mysterious black glove with red Taiwanese lettering and the number “24” embroidered on it?

“I had a Rawlings, and this guy really wanted it,” said LaForest with a smile.

“He gave me he his and I gave him mine.  (It) says his name on it, but I don’t know what it is.  It’s too complicated (Laughs).”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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