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Jimenez leaves Twins, Korea with heavy heart

After playing for the LG Twins for two years, third baseman Luis Jimenez has bid a disappointed farewell to Korea.

On Tuesday, the Twins decided to cut Jimenez, making room for them to sign former major leaguer James Loney. With that decision, Jimenez’s two years in Korea came to an abrupt, crashing end.

Jimenez joined LG during the 2015 season. Manager Yang Sang-moon was an early fan of Jimenez, saying, “He hits well, he fields well, he’s a perfect third baseman,” and even went to Jimenez’s native Dominican Republic to recruit him directly. But when Jimenez’s team would not release him, LG signed Jack Hannahan instead. However, when Hannahan was cut midseason, LG went after Jimenez again, this time finding success.
Luis Jimenez (L) during the 2016 KBO Playoffs. (Yonhap)
Luis Jimenez (L) during the 2016 KBO Playoffs. (Yonhap)
Jimenez became a fan favorite, admired for his solid play and showmanship. Following his addition, the Twins made a surprise run to the playoffs in 2016. However, Jimenez was unable to save LG from a second-round exit, as his weaknesses to outside pitches and breaking balls were exposed.

This season, opposing pitchers attacked those weaknesses, and Jimenez slumped. LG demoted him to the minors temporarily to address the issue, hurting his confidence. Then at the beginning of June he was called back up, but before he could prove himself, he took a wrong step rounding first base and injured his ankle. The Twins were patient as Jimenez rehabbed his injury, but with their season in dire straits decided they had to make a move, and Jimenez was cut.

Jimenez left for the US on Friday. He attempted to show a positive face until the end, but because of his disappointment he was unable to bid farewell coolly and left with a heavy heart. Although some foreign players have remained in Korea a while after being cut, Jimenez went straight home.

Jimenez said he plans to take a break from baseball to rest his ankle, which had not fully recovered, and then begin again anew.

By Alex Park / Intern reporter (