All-Star left-hander Cha Woo-chan made a splash in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) offseason in December, becoming the highest-paid pitcher in the country. And he wants to live up to his contract by doing what he's been doing all along -- giving his team a consistent presence on the mound.
The LG Twins signed him to a four-year deal worth 9.5 billion won ($8.5 million), luring him from the Samsung Lions after 11 seasons there.
South Korean pitcher Cha Woo-chan throws a pitch against Chinese Taipei during the World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 9, 2017. Cha is with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization. (Yonhap)
He joins a solid rotation that also features David Huff and Henry Sosa, two workhorses from last season, and right-hander Ryu Jae-kuk, who was lights-out in the Twins' second-half push.
Cha's counting stats don't jump out -- he was 12-6 with a 4.73 ERA last season -- but he's been a consistent and versatile performer throughout his career.
Representing his club at the annual KBO media day in Seoul, Cha said he won't try to change too much about his approach.
"Having signed for so much money, I do believe I'll have to try to live up to expectations," Cha told reporters in a media availability. "And I stuck to the same routine this spring getting ready for the season. My goal is not to miss a turn in the rotation and make 30 or more starts."
Cha had split the early part of his career in the rotation and the bullpen, and will enter only his fourth season as a full-time starter.
The 29-year-old said he is a bit worried about getting off to a slow start to the season, saying he hoped the team and the fans will be patient enough to wait for him to turn things around.
The new regular season begins Friday, and the Twins have named him the starter for their home opener at Seoul's Jamsil Stadium on April 4.
"I'd like to thank my manager and coaches for giving me such a meaningful assignment," Cha said. "I've been preparing for the season the best I can and hopefully things will go well."
Cha didn't get to spend much time with the Twins in preseason, as he was selected to pitch for the national team at the World Baseball Classic earlier this month. South Korea crashed out of the first round, with Cha struggling during training camp with some ankle pains.
Cha said that while the ankle is not yet 100 percent, it won't keep him from takng the mound at the start of the regular season. (Yonhap)