March 02, 2023 10:37
Major League player Tommy Edman of the St. Louis Cardinals arrived in Korea -- his mother's country of birth -- on Wednesday to join the Korean national team ahead of the World Baseball Classic.
The quadrennial event runs from March 8 through 21 at various venues in Japan, Taiwan and the U.S.
Edman said he had always wanted to visit Korea and felt excited to play for the country.
"[My mom] has helped me out with a couple of the Korean culture aspects that I wouldn't necessarily be familiar with, primarily making sure I'm bowing plenty," he said.
Edman, whose middle name is Hyunsu, was born to a Korean mother and an American father. He decided to play for Korea as the WBC allows players to compete for the countries of their parents' or grandparents' birth. He is the first non-Korean to join the national team for the WBC since its inauguration in 2006.
Edman, who is one of the top second basemen in the major leagues, is expected to bring energy to the national team and form a keystone combination with shortstop Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres.
"I'm really excited to play with Ha-seong after seeing him play with the Padres the past couple of years," he said.
Edman said he is looking forward to playing against Japan. Korea will face the neighboring country in its second game on March 10. He said he has learned about the Korea-Japan rivalry since being included in the roster.
"Just from watching the past World Baseball Classics, you can see how high the energy is in the stadium when Korea and Japan are playing against each other. But I'm sure I won't fully be able to appreciate that until we're actually playing the game at Tokyo Dome," he said, adding that he told his wife who is half Japanese and half Filipino that she has to root for Korea.
He has another reason to look forward to "a good competition" and hope for a win against Japan. His Cardinals teammate, Lars Nootbaar, will play for Japan, where his mother was born.
"I hope we win because then whoever wins will have bragging rights for the rest of the year in the Cardinals clubhouse," Edman said.
Edman said it is an honor to represent Korea and he hopes to make baseball fans proud.
"Hopefully, I get to hit at the top where I can get on base for those big home-run hitters in the middle of the lineup," he said. "I'm just hoping to help the team out anyway I can. And for me, that just means playing good defense and getting on base a lot… I'm just hoping to be a good contributor to the team."
The national team will train at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Thursday and have a practice game the following day before heading to Osaka, Japan on Saturday.
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