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.