Former major league first baseman James Loney has cut his South Korean stint short after just 23 games, having returned to the United States in response to a demotion to the minors.
The LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization said on Tuesday they have also placed Loney, 33, on the voluntarily retired list. Players on the list are ineligible to perform anywhere in the KBO without permission from their original club.
The Twins signed Loney in July to replace injured infielder Luis Jimenez. A first round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002, Loney brought plenty of major league pedigree to the Twins, with 1,443 games in 11 big league seasons under his belt. He is a career .284 hitter with 108 home runs, 669 RBIs and 1,425 hits.
In this file photo provided by the LG Twins, James Loney of the Twins celebrates his walk-off hit against the KT Wiz in the clubs` Korea Baseball Organization game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. Loney has left the Twins, which placed him on the voluntarily retired list on Aug. 29, 2017. (Yonhap)
In 23 games for the Twins, Loney batted .278 with three home runs and 12 RBIs, as the club fell off slightly in the battle for a playoff berth.
They won just one out of six games last week to drop to seventh place at 57-55-2 (wins-losses-ties), a game back of the fifth and wild-card spot, currently occupied by the Nexen Heroes.
Last Saturday, the Twins said they'd send Loney to their minor league affiliation, where they hoped he could get his timing back. Manager Yang Sang-moon noted Loney couldn't catch up to KBO fastballs and that the player hadn't lived up to his expectations as far as his ability to adjust to the new league.
Instead of reporting to the minors, Loney packed up and left on Sunday.
Loney signed for $350,000, but players who get placed on the voluntarily retired list during the season won't be paid for the remainder of their contract.
A Twins official said Loney was not pleased with his demotion. Their general manager, Song Gu-hong, met with Loney on Sunday to talk things over, but the player left later that evening.
The Twins got in touch with Loney after he arrived in the United States and tried to convince him to return. They told Loney that he'd be placed on the voluntarily retired list unless he rejoined the Twins, but the player didn't budge.
KBO teams are each allowed three foreign players and at least one must be a position player. They can make a maximum two changes a season to their foreign player contingent. But players acquired after Aug. 15 aren't eligible for the postseason. (Yonhap)