As he was formally introduced as a member of the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min said he will not back down from challenges in Major League Baseball.
The Orioles held a press conference in Sarasota, the site of their spring training, to unveil the right-hander as its newest member. Yoon signed a three-year contract worth $5.75 million. The deal was first reported last week but the club waited until Yoon passed the physical before making the acquisition official on Monday.
The former MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization is the 15th South Korean to reach the big leagues. At the presser, Yoon said he'd always dreamed of playing in the majors as he grew up watching the first-ever South Korean major leaguer, former pitcher Park Chan-ho, who debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994.
"I can feel now that I am very close to realizing that dream," he said. "I can't wait to throw in the new season. I will never back down and I will stick to my game plan. I am picturing myself on the big league mound."
Yoon is also the second South Korean to move directly from the KBO to the majors, after Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers made that jump in December 2012. Ryu won 14 games in his rookie season last year.
Yoon was voted MVP in the KBO in 2011, after taking the pitching Triple Crown for the Kia Tigers with 17 wins, 178 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA.
Yoon was sidelined at the start of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury and was limited to 87 2/3 innings. He went 3-6 with seven saves in 30 appearances, 11 of them starts, with a 4.00 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 28 walks.
The three-time KBO All-Star has a career record of 73-59 with 44 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 303 appearances. In 1,129 innings, he has struck out 949 batters and walked 345. He has been both a starter and a closer in his KBO career.
His role on the Orioles isn't immediately clear. The American League East club has four solid starters in the rotation, with Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris and Chen Wei-Yin. It has also reportedly agreed to terms with a free agent right-hander
Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a 82-75 career record, after going 13-9 for the Cleveland Indians last season.
Aside from Yoon, the Orioles had other candidates for the No. 5 starting job, such as Zach Britton, Alfredo Aceves and Kevin Gausman.
Yoon said he doesn't yet know whatf his role will be and added, "I just have to make an impression on the manager (Buck Showalter) and do the best I can in any role." (Yonhap)