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Korean Baseball (KBO): News, Notes, and Where to Watch

 Conor Liguori - World Baseball Network  |    Jul 2nd, 2024 10:52am EDT

As the KBO season progresses, here is a look at the top news and notes from the past week in Korea’s highest level of professional baseball.  

Former KBO Players Sign MiLB Deals with Orioles   

Infielder Niko Goodrum and right-handed pitcher Burch Smith, who both have previous playing experience in the KBO, signed minor league contracts with the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, reported Roch Kubatko of MASN on X.   

Goodrum spent the 2023 KBO season with the Lotte Giants, hitting .295 with 28 RBI in 50 games. He cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels on June 17.  

Smith has been a journeyman in the MLB since his debut with the San Diego Padres in 2013 and only made one appearance for the Hanwha Eagles in 2023 after suffering an injury in his throwing shoulder in his first game with the club.  

KIA Tigers Closer to Miss All-Star Game  

Kia Tigers closer Jung Hai-young, the leading vote-getter for the 2024 KBO All-Star Game, will miss the game due to rotator cuff tendinitis in his right shoulder.  

“Because of his shoulder problems, he will miss the All-Star Game and return to action after the break,” Tigers manager Lee Bum-ho told reporters Tuesday. “It’s not a serious injury though. A lot of pitchers experience this type of issue. Fortunately, he stopped pitching when he first felt pain on Sunday.”  

Jung is second in the KBO with 21 saves and received 1.39 million All-Star game votes. He owns a 2.25 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 32 innings this year with the Tigers.  

Cuban LHP Elias is to Return to Landers on Wednesday  

The SSG Landers will receive a significant boost in the pitching department on Wednesday, as lefty Roenis Elias will return to the starting rotation, The Korea Herald reported on Tuesday. Elias was on the injured list with an oblique injury.  

Elias will make his first start since May 18 on Wednesday against the NC Dinos. The Cuban will replace the Japanese starting pitcher, Keisho Shirakawa, who was playing on a six-week contract with the Landers.  

A new rule in the KBO allows organizations to sign contracts for foreign players if an injured player needs at least six weeks of recovery. Elias played in MLB for seven seasons from 2014 to 2022, five with the Seattle Mariners, and Shirakawa was his temporary replacement. The Korea Herald reports Landers players presented Shirakawa with handwritten messages for his dedication and a framed jersey with his name on the back.   

This Day in Korean Baseball History  

On July 2, 2003, South Korean starting pitcher Jae Weong Seo of the New York Mets allowed five earned runs on five hits in 3.1 innings in an 11-4 loss against the Montreal Expos.  

Perhaps Seo was too comfortable before the game, as Evan Grossman of the New York Post reported the pitcher was lying on a couch in the clubhouse talking to Asian reporters while he watched movies.  

Seo was a Korea Series champion in 2009 with the Kia Tigers and played six seasons in the MLB with the New York Mets, the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

KBO Standings as of Tuesday, July 2  

  1. KIA Tigers (46-33-2) 
  2. LG Twins (45-37-2) 
  3. Samsung Lions (44-37-2) 
  4. Doosan Bears (44-39-2) 
  5. SSG Landers (41-40-1) 
  6. NC Dinos (38-41-2) 
  7. Lotte Giants (35-40-3) 
  8. KT Wiz (37-44-2) 
  9. Hanwha Eagles (35-43-2) 
  10. Kiwoom Heroes (34-45-0)

Watch KBO games using the global streaming platform SOOP 

Photo Credit: Hoy Park #11 of the Oakland Athletics throws to first base during a spring training game Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 18, 2024 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

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Conor Liguori - World Baseball Network