Will former Major League Baseball pitcher Kim Byung-hyun be able to revive his career with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan? Japanese sports media reported on Wednesday that the Golden Eagles are eyeing the 31-year-old Korean right-hander as a closer.
Kim's career hit a peak in 2002 when he was named to the MLB All-Star team after posting 36 saves in the season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. But his career took a downturn after he moved to the Boston Red Sox in 2003, and he disappeared from the big leagues from the end of 2007. He had brief unsuccessful stints at returning to the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008 and the San Francisco Giants earlier this year, but has played in an independent league in California since May.
In mid-November Kim had an open test with Rakuten's new manager Senichi Hoshino, but was unsuccessful as his fastest ball reached just 130 km/h. However, considering the fact that Kim had had a long break from competitive games, Hoshino has decided to give him a second chance to be tested in February next year.
Sports Nippon reported, "Being granted a second trial is very rare, and Hoshino has high hopes for Kim as he had a respectable career in the MLB with 54 wins and 86 saves." According to the paper, Kim expects he can return to his original form and is practicing hard in the U.S.
If Kim joins Rakuten, he will be the fifth Korean baseball player in Japan's Pacific League, along with Lee Seung-yeop and Park Chan-ho of the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka, Kim Tae-kyun with Chiba Lotte, and Lee Bum-ho of Fukuoka SoftBank.