SPORTS

Ex-big league catcher to get more backstop duties in Korea

By a2016032
  • Published : May 29, 2017 - 11:25
  • Updated : May 29, 2017 - 11:25

A former big league catcher will likely get more action behind the home plate for his South Korean club after spending most of the season at first base.

The Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization said Monday that Wilin Rosario, formerly of the Colorado Rockies, will get some starts as catcher the rest of the season. For the time being, he will be the designated catcher for his fellow Dominican starter, Alexi Ogando.

In this file photo taken on May 21, 2017, Wilin Rosario of the Hanwha Eagles stands on the second base bag after a double against the Samsung Lions in their Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon. (Yonhap)

The two were batterymates in the Dominican league.

Rosario joined the Eagles in 2016 with 323 big league games as catcher under his belt. In his last major league season in 2015 with the Rockies, though, Rosario made 46 starts at first base, compared to only two behind the plate.

Rosario hit 28 home runs in 2012 and 21 more in 2013, but the Rockies weren't exactly enamored with his defense. The Eagles were also reluctant to give Rosario a full-time catching job when he arrived in the KBO.

Foreign catchers have been a rarity in the KBO, which started accepting imports in 1998. When Rosario made his KBO catching debut in April 2016, he became only the fourth non-Korean player to appear behind the plate here.

Incidentally, the Eagles' pitchers have struggled when Rosario was doing the catching. In 10 innings with Rosario as the backstop, the Eagles have given up 21 runs. The sample size may be small, but it's at least enough to make the Eagles' coaches think twice about giving Rosario a full-time gig.

But Ogando asked the coaching staff about throwing to his countryman on a regular basis. And if Rosario plays catcher, the Eagles could move slugger Kim Tae-kyun to first base and open up a designated hitter's spot for an extra bat. It won't give them the strongest defensive unit, but the Eagles are hoping such a change will at least bolster their offense that's ranked in the bottom half in runs scored and home runs.

The Eagles could also use some jolt up and down the lineup in the aftermath of former manager Kim Sung-keun's firing. They're just 2-8 in their last 10 games, both of the wins coming over the past two days. (Yonhap)