Lim Chang-yong got called up from the minor league by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, becoming the 14th South Korean national to join Major League Baseball (MLB).
The Cubs announced that they picked up Lim's contract from their Triple-A affiliate in Iowa and made him immediately available for the matinee against the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field. The Cubs went on to win the game 9-7, but Lim didn't pitch.
The right-hander received No. 12 for his jersey as he made the Cubs' 40-man roster.
Lim joins pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers and outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Cincinnati Reds in the South Korean contingent of the big leagues this year. All three are in the National League (NL).
The call-up caps off a remarkable comeback for the 37-year-old, who had his second Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery last summer. He spent the first half of 2013 recovering from the operation, after signing a two-year deal with the Cubs in December.
He made 21 appearances in the minors, allowing four earned runs in 22 1/3 innings for a 1.61 ERA. He struck out 24 and issued only seven walks. He held his opponents to a .173 batting average and didn't give up a home run.
Lim returned to the mound in June at the Rookie League, the lowest level in the minors, and climbed all the way up to Triple-A by the end of July.
At the start of each September, MLB clubs expand their rosters from 25 to 40. To make room for Lim, the Cubs designated right-hander Michael Bowden for assignment.
The Cubs have the second-worst record in the NL at 59-80. They haven't won a World Series since 1908.
Lim began his professional career in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in 1995 and spent 13 seasons with two different teams. He then pitched the next five seasons for the Yakult Swallows in the Central League of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), before joining the Cubs.
Lim is the fifth South Korean to play for teams in the KBO, the NPB and MLB, after pitchers Koo Dae-sung, Lee Sang-hoon, Park Chan-ho and Kim Byung-hyun, though Kim only pitched in the minors for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2011.
Lim had often said his lifelong dream was to one day pitch in the majors.
"I want to see how it feels like," Lim told the Cubs' official website. "I'm nervous and excited."
Lim collected 128 saves in Japan, the most by a South Korean pitcher in NPB history, and struck out 231 batters in 233 innings.
In the KBO, Lim led the league in saves in three different seasons, while bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen. He went 104-66 with 168 saves in 534 games with a 3.25 ERA in the KBO.