Monday, March 31, 2014

03/30/14 (Sunday) Quick-caps

Hanhwa Eagles 4, Lotte Giants 2 @ Busan

Hanhwa wins its first first game of the season in 5 years. Scored with bases loaded in the second, Kim Tae-gyun with a run scoring double in the 4th, and that was enough for the win. Celeb Clay went 5.2 giving up 5 hits and 2 earned runs for the win. Song Seung-joon takes the L for the G's giving up 8 hits and 3 earned runs.

Samsung Lions 8, Kia Tigers 5 @ Daegu

Samsung leaves for Daejon with a season opening split against their polar opposites. Yamaico Navarro smashes a 2 run home run in the first to get things started.. and a 4 run 4th inning helped by a bases loaded triple by Navarro again held off Kia's game long come back attempts.

LG Twins 14, Doosan Bears 4 @ Seoul

Lim Gee-seup starts for LG and gives up 3 hits over 5 innings and a single earned run as LG pounds Doosan to split the mini series. Lim grabbed the win leaving Doosan's No Gyoung-un with the loss. Lee Jin-young with the slam for LG.

SK Wyverns 6, Nexen Heroes 4 @ Incheon

Series is split. SK's Ross Wolf gave up a 2 run home run in the first but a run scored in the bottom of the first and a 2 run home run by SK catcher Jo In-seong gave SK the lead. Nexen took the lead again at the top of the 8th but SK responded well again at their half of the inning with 2 runs scored. Park Hui-soo grabs his first save of the season.

Hanhwa and Lotte make up their rained out Saturday game on Monday, March 31 at Busan. Song Chang-hyun starts for the Eagles and Jang Won-joon starts for the Giants.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Opening Day Quick-caps (03/29/14)

Saturday, March 29 marked the start of the 2014 KBO season. Quick-caps below...

Doosan Bears 5, LG Twins 4 at Seoul

Bears smash 3 home runs to beat locker room rivals. Starter Dustin Nippert gets the win going 5IP and giving up 3ER's. Kim Sun-woo gets the loss in his first start for his new team which happened to be against his old team.

Kia Tigers 2, Samsung Lions 1 at Daegu

DJ Houton goes 6 innings giving up an earned run for his first win in his first start for Kia against defending champs. Lions had beaten Tigers at Gwangju in the fist game of 2011. But Samsung has now lost 3 opening day games in a row. Yoon Seong-hwan takes the L for the Lions.

Nexen Heroes 8, SK Wyverns 3 at Incheon

Team Burgundy beats the Dubs for a good continuation to their successful 2013 campaign. Nexen lead 4-3 until the 8th and 9th innings when the Heroes scored 2 in each inning to complete the rout. Andy Van Hekken with the win for Nexen and Kim Gwang-hyun with the loss for the Wyverns.

Rain in Busan postpones Lotte Giants' game against the Hanhwa Eagles

Sunday, March 30 games:

Eagles (Celeb Clay) at Giants (Song Seung-joon)
Tigers (Song Eun-bum) at Lions (Rick VandenHurk)
Twins (Lim Gee-seup) at Bears (No Gyeong-eun)
Heroes (Gang Yoon-gu) at Wyverns (Ross Wolf)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hanhwa’s Yoo Chang-sik, Can He Really Become Ryu 2 This Year?

Translator/Writer: Simon Kim

Korean link (Naver, SportsWorld):

Eyes have been on Hanhwa Eagles southpaw Yoo Chang-sik at the team’s 2014 Spring Camp in Okinawa.

People have been expecting Yoo to step up and replace Ryu Hyun-jin as Hanhwa’s ace. Powerful lefty Ryu Hyun-jin left for the LA Dodgers in the Major Leagues last year leaving a void at his position. Earning a W700,000,000 contract fee in 2011 (W64,00,000 yearly salary) (convert at to your currency!), Yoo was actually drafted because of his closeness to Ryu.

But Yoo has had a history of shining in Spring Camps and under performing when the regular season rolled along. Ryu’s loss was a big loss for the Eagles, but Yoo was expected to perform well and lessen the negative impact.

And with that, Yoo became a focus for Hanhwa watchers in off season training last season. Yoo pitched in his first practice game of the year February 25 in Okinawa against the Nexen Heroes and reached speeds of 147kph with his fastball (Google conversions). He pitched 2 innings giving up 2 hits and walking none. He also struck out 2 and gave up an earned run. Yoo’s performance was generally considered good as his sharp change-up also caught people’s eyes.

Yoo had been sick with the flu during the Okinawa camps delaying his first appearance. He was reported to have missed 10 days of practice this month and appeared on the mound in his best condition since training started. Hanhwa manager Kim Eung-yong was reported to be very mad about it.

But there has been a lot of expectations placed on Yoo. Hanhwa’s pitching staff are worried that this will be another case of Yoo dazzling in the spring with nothing to show for it when the season begins. It had been the pattern every season so far.

This year, however, focus is on Yoo’s condition rather than simply on him. With Hanhwa’s two foreign pitchers (Andrew Albers, Caleb Clay), lefty Song Chang-hyun, and Ahn Young-myung (recently discharged from military service) all competing for spots in the rotation, Yoo is planning to not over do it this spring and prepare for Opening Day at a healthy pace.

Original Writer - Bae Jin-hwan

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nexen’s Rottino: “Park Byung-ho’s My Friend, and Catching’s Okay”

MK Sports; Reporter Pyo Kwon-hyang

Translator: Simon Kim


We recently caught up with Nexen Infielder/Outfielder Vinny Rottino, 34, who is with his team in Arizona for their early spring camp. Rottino is training with the team in preparation for the upcoming 2014 KBO season.

Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 216 pounds, the burly import hits for both contact and power. Some describe him as a ‘medium long range missile.’ Nexen players are said to be trying to learn from Rottino.

Rottino’s greatest strength comes from his ability to play defence at every position. Playing last season in Japan with the Kintetsu Buffaloes, he played positions in both the outfield and the infield. And during his 10 seasons in the minor leagues, Rottino wore a catcher’s mask and started at the position more than any other position. With a fielding percentage of .988 as a catcher, Rottino is expected to work well with Nexen’s import pitchers Andy VanHekken and Brandon Knight.

Let’s have a chat with Rottino to see how he’s coming along..

How are you getting along with the team?

I don’t feel any kind of distance between the players and the coaches, we’re becoming close. We’re all coming together to try to win. I really think the training here is similar to the training in the Major Leagues.

Have you made any friends with the players? Anyone in particular?

I’ve become close friends with Park Byung-ho. He speaks English. He seems to be welcoming me to the team in a way.

What do you think of the image of Nexen?

It seems to be organized well. The coaching staff, the assistants, front office, it’s all organized well. The interpreters are good too. They’re not players but it seems like a team.

We’ve heard you can play all positions. People in Korea can be expecting a lot.

I expect a lot from myself as well. I take my pride seriously and I try my best at all times. I leave everything on the field.

It seems you’re going to be in the outfield for now. But there’s a lot of talent on this team, it seems success will have to be urgent.

The goal is to win so I’m willing to play in any position. So it doesn't really matter. I have to earn my place on the team. I’m determined to do well and show my value.

You were at the catcher position the most in the minor leagues. So you’ll have to be prepared. How are you going to be able to adjust to the pitchers in Korea?

I've caught a lot of games. I play the position very naturally. I’m very comfortable catching in games so it won’t be a big deal at all.

What will you be focusing on the most in this spring camp?

I want to improve my body conditioning and my swing. I’m wishing the season can start fast.

They've increased the number of foreign players for each team this year and every team has a foreign batter now. You’re the first foreign position player on the team since Cory Aldridge in 2011. He was like a ‘giant,’ and I've heard you’re like a ‘lieutenant.’

I always try to bat well. I’m always swinging at pitches I know I can hit. And of course I leave the pitches I can’t hit alone. I always try to send the ball to either the left or right field. Home runs come easier like that.

Any final words about the 2014 season?

I want to be able to play full time and train hard in the spring for this goal. I’m going to try my best to help the team win.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Yoon Suk-min and Kia Tigers Meet: Nothing Happens

From Sports Dong-A, January 10, link:

Translator: Simon Kim

Kia Tigers pitcher Yoon Suk-min has been unable to sign a contract with a Major League Baseball team

Yoon still wishes to pitch in Major Leagues

Yoon’s agent Scott Boras is optimistic

Yoon will return to the U.S. soon

“We’ve met but there’s been no progress. It’s a frustrating situation.”

The Kia Tigers have met with free agent Yoon Suk-min regarding a possible return to the team but there has been no progress.

“We’ve met with Yoon and talked a lot. We’ve told him what we think. But it seems like he is still determined to go to the Major Leagues at this stage. We are choosing to respect his decision like we always have. But it is a frustrating situation,” a Kia team representative announced on the 9th of January.

Yoon left for the United States to pursue his dream of pitching in the major leagues right after the end of the 2013 season. But he returned to Korea without a contract on the 22nd of December for his winter holiday. Yoon is still in the country and his former team has declared that they will make sure that Yoon pitches for the Tigers if Yoon decides to stay in the country. The meeting took place for this reason but Kia was only re-confirmed of Yoon’s desire to go the United States.

There has been no progress with Yoon pitching in the Major Leagues but time is running out and a lot of factors are coming into play. Kia’s rivals in the Korean Baseball Organization have contacted Yoon and there has been interest from Japan as well. Pitching in Japan has become a possibility for Yoon.

But from Kia believes that nothing has changed from Yoon’s point of view.

“Yoon’s determined to ‘run’ in the Major Leagues. Pitchers are being signed later this off-season than last season. After (highly sought free agent Japanese Rakuten Eagles pitcher) Tanaka Masahiro is signed, Yoon should also be able to find a team as well. There should be good news soon,” reported a representative of the Boras Corporation, Yoon’s agency.

Yoon’s December return to Korea was kept a secret and he will be returning to the U.S. shortly. The Boras Corporation representative says that Yoon will leave Korea “quietly” like he returned in December.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Next Ryu Hyun-jin? LG’s New Big Lefty

From KBS News, January 07, 2013

Translator: Simon Kim

Lim Jee-seop is a big left handed pitcher who we can say has the same pedigree as former Hanhwa Eagles ace Ryu Hyun-jin.

Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall, this 19 year old LG Twins rookie will be turning heads in the new season with his 93 mph fastball.

With full use of his very long fingers, Lim is able to take on the most skilled batters.

This recent high school graduate is being compared to Ryu Hyun-jin, former Hanhwa Eagles standout and current starter of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers.

On his weak Jeju High School team, Lim won 9 games had recorded an ERA of just 1.
He pitched 97 innings and recorded an astonishing 163 strike outs during that time.

“If I apply what I learned in high school, I think the results will be good.” Lim says in a TV interview. “I only have one goal this winter. (In the Under 18 WBC tournament game against Japan in September, 2013), I pitched 2 innings and gave up 5 earned runs. I want to focus on re-gaining control of my pitches.”

Lim declares that he would like to be an effective pitcher for 10 to 20 years.

With other lefties Kim Gwyang-hyun (SK Wyverns) and Yoo Chang-sik (Hanwha Eagles) going through some growing pains, the addition of Lim Jee-seop vying to become the next dominant southpaw in the league is sure to make for an entertaining season.

KBS News


Lim Jee-seop (Pitcher) Vitals:
DOB: September 06, 1995
Born: Changwon, South Korea
Team: LG Twins
Height: 6-3
Weight: 207 Pounds
Pitches/Bats: Left/Left
First Year: 2014
Contract: W250,000,000
Salary: W24,000,000
High School: Jeju High School

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Park Jin-man, SK’s New Captain

From E-Daily Star-In – SK Wyvern’s new captain for 2014 is Park Jin-man.

Translator: Simon Kim


The SK Wyverns held a full meeting on the morning of January 4th. The entire team attended as well as the coaching staff. And Park Jin-man was chosen by the players in a vote to become the captain of the team in the up-coming season. Park beat Cho In-seong by two votes to win.

Last year’s captain was Jeong Geun-woo. But after losing Jeong to the Hanhwa Eagles in free agency, the baton was passed to Park in this day’s meeting. Kim Gang-min was the interim captain since the November season ending camp held in Kagoshima, Japan.

Park Jin-man is a quiet, charismatic player. He differs from past captains “Charismatic Kim Jae-hyun” and “Older Brother Leader Lee Ho-jyun.” Park does not just lead with seniority, he leads with his actions on the field. Park earns the respect of his teammates with his play on the field. And this is the reason why SK’s players chose Park.

The Wyverns ended last season in 6th place, 2 places out of a playoff spot. This was the first time in 7 seasons that SK did not play in the fall. Needless to say, a lot will be expected of Park Jin-man.

Park Jin-man declares that it is “us before me, the team before the player” and that he will help turn the team into one that communicates well with each other. Park says that he will take on the challenge of moving this team from its low standing from the previous year and that he will become a good leader in the upcoming season.

Friday, January 3, 2014

3 Factors Lotte Needs to Overcome their 22 Year Drought

From Osen – January 02, 2014

Translated by: Simon Kim

By 2014, the Lotte Giants had not won a championship in the Korean Baseball Organization in 22 years. After the joy of the 1992 Korean Series championship, Lotte has felt nothing like it since. What can be done in this offseason to fix this?

Lotte’s current off season has been a fruitful one. After re-signing their potentially biggest free agent loss Kang Min-ho to a record contract, they resigned reliever Kang Yong-sik. The addition of Choi Joon-suk, Lee Yeo-sang, and Sim Soo-chang also immediately helped the team.

With Lotte’s imports, pitchers Shane Youman and Chris Oxspring were naturally re-signed as these two won a combined 26 games in 2013. And big infielder Luis Jiminez was also announced as signed. What the team hopes for is the healthy return of Jang Won-jun and Jang Seong-woo, two Lotte players currently serving in the Korean military. The process of building the team is going well.

So what’s needed for Lotte to win this year? First, they will need to make sure their starting rotation is settled and their bullpen is strong. Then they will need to strengthen their batting power. 

Starting pitchers:

Lotte needs less starting pitchers. Song Soon-jun, Youman, and Oxspring each won over 10 games last season for a combined 38 wins between the 3. The #4 and #5 starters turned into the problem, and using closer Kim Sa-yul as a starter complicated things to the point that the pitchers who will fill these positions are unclear.

The greatest benefit Lotte’s rotation will have this year is the return of Jang Won-jun. Going 15-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 2011, Jang left the team to serve in the military with the Korean police force. In his 7 years before, Jang pitched 100 innings in each season and came in second for most wins on the team 4 years in a row. Jang pitched for the Korean police team in the Futures League and held the lowest ERA in his two seasons with the team.

If Jang Won-jun pitches 180 innings and wins 10 or more games, it can be said that Lotte’s rotation will be the best in the KBO. Jang, Song Soon-jun, Youman, and Oxpring are quality pitchers and better than any other team’s rotations. There will be an odd number of teams until next season and a 4 man rotation will be enough.


The second factor is “backdoor strength.” Lotte’s bullpen ERA was 3.95 last season, good for 4th in the league, but Lotte blew the most saves with 21. Kim Seong-bae became the closer in the middle of the season but the initial bullpen plan fell apart resulting in a worrying situation.

Manager Kim Shi-jin plans to see how the situation unfolds before appointing a closer. With the return of Choi Dae-sung and Jeong Sang-juk, Lotte begins to have more options at the closer role. Kim Seong-bae is weak against left handed batters, so he will be tasked against right handed batters and Choi Dae-sung will be left for left handed batters. Jeong Dae-hyun leads the bullpen and Kang Yong-sik, Kim Seung-hui, Lee Myong-woo, Kim Sa-yul, and Hong Seong-min round up the bullpen in skill level. Jeong Dae-hyun would become the natural closer.

Lotte’s batting strength:

The Giants had been known as a home run hitting team. But their 61 home runs as a team last season was good for only 7th in the league. Just 3 years ago, Lee Dae-ho hit 44 home runs himself. The return of a more powerful offense in Busan is truly needed.

Lotte has addressed this with the signings of Choi Joon-suk and Jiminez. Choi hit 7 home runs last season with Doosan but exploded for 6 home runs in the post season. Choi is expected to hit 20 home runs after being provided with a steady opportunity in Busan. And Jiminez is also expected to be a good addition if he adjusts well to life in Korean baseball. And with a return to form of Son Ah-seop, Lotte is expected to improve in their hitting power.

Samsung has won 3 Korean Series in a row, and there are other contenders in the league. But with Oh Seung-hwan leaving for Japan, Samsung becomes considerably weaker. With a strong off season, the championship that has long eluded Lotte is becoming closer to reality. What is left is turning the ‘if’ to ‘conviction.’  This will be Lotte’s task as the spring training schedule turns into the start of the new season.