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Baseball’s “odd couple” gets Korea talking

Ryu Hyun-jin (AP-Yonhap News)
Ryu Hyun-jin (AP-Yonhap News)

It’s hard to imagine two players more in contrast: Ryu Hyun-jin is a South Korean rookie pitcher with a boyish face and Juan Uribe is a burly veteran infielder from the Dominican Republic.

Yet a strong tie has been formed between the two members of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 26-year-old Ryu’s first season in Major League Baseball.

“It’s like the Odd Couple, him and Uribe get along so well,” Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly told

It is not like Ryu and the 34-year-old Uribe have a ton of common interests to talk about. In fact, they sometimes resort to using sign language, as Ryu speaks only minimal English, while Uribe speaks Spanish and some English.

This does not stop the two from chattering away, as Ryu and Uribe often do during a game, according to Dodgers’ catcher A.J. Ellis. The two friends have also been photographed dancing and engaged in banter in the dugout.

When the rookie’s emotions get the better of him during a match, it is reportedly up to the 13-year veteran to calm him down.

In South Korea, where Ryu has a huge fan base largely due to his seven years in the country’s professional league, many fans affectionately discuss the unlikely friendship between the two players. Several videos of Ryu and Uribe joking around in the dugout are being shared on the Web and some fans are even calling Uribe “Keun-hyeong (big brother)” or “Uribe hyeong (brother).”

Ryu and Uribe played a key role in the success of the Dodgers this season, which finished the 2013 regular season with the best record in the National League West. The Dodgers clinched the NL Division champion on Tuesday after beating the Atlanta Braves 4-3, thanks to Uribe’s two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.