March 03, 2021 11:02
Five Koreans will play in Major League Baseball in the upcoming season as infielder Kim Ha-seong and pitcher Yang Hyeon-jong have newly joined the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers.
The other three are Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals and Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays. Choo Shin-soo, who played for the Rangers, left the club to play in Korea. They are now taking part in spring training, for which exhibition games started on Sunday.
Kim Ha-seong went 1-for-4 in his first two exhibition games for the Padres in Arizona but hit all four balls hard. In Monday's game against the Chicago Cubs, he lined a ball directly at the left fielder in his first appearance before hitting a hard single his second time up, while on Sunday he flied out to the outfield twice against the Seattle Mariners.
"Four plate appearances, four barrels. He's off to a really good start," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said.
For Yang, who signed a split contract with the Rangers, the spring games could not be more important, as whether he will pitch or not in the regular season depends on his performance during training.
Since joining the camp on Feb. 24, he has undergone two performance checks in the bullpen, throwing 32 balls on Feb. 26 and 40 on Monday. The Rangers have already decided on three of the five starting pitchers and Yang will have to compete for one of the two remaining spots.
Ryu had his first live pitching session on Feb. 25 and plans to have another one before appearing in an exhibition game.
Kim Kwang-hyun, who had a great rookie season last year, apparently got off to a smooth start checking his form.
Choi, who is taking a break due to knee soreness, plans to rejoin the team Thursday.
The MLB regular season starts on April 2.
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