“I won’t back down”

February 18, 2014

Baltimore Orioles formally introduce Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min

Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min, right, puts on the Baltimore Orioles cap, while the Orioles manager Buck Showalter waits to help him put on his new uniform jersey. (Yonhap)

Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min, right, puts on the Baltimore Orioles cap, while the Orioles manager Buck Showalter waits to help him put on his new uniform jersey. (Yonhap)

By Lee Kyutae

The 15th baseball player from South Korea to sign Major League contract, Yoon Suk-min, vowed not to be intimidated as he was formally introduced as a member of the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.

The Orioles held a press conference in Sarasota, the site of their spring training, to unveil the 27-year old right-hander as its newest member. Yoon signed an incentive laden three-year contract with $5.75 million guaranteed. The deal was first reported last week, but the club waited until Yoon passed the physical before making the acquisition official on Monday.

The following is a translation of Yoon’s interview with Korean media after the press conference.

– How much did you know about the Baltimore Orioles before you got to the United States?

I knew the team well, since this is the team Cal Ripken Jr., who holds the most consecutive games played record in the Major League baseball (MLB), played for. And I saw a lot of their games (last year), and the impression I got was that they are a bunch of young players who run hard and hit hard. 


–What was the reason for pitching out of the bullpen most of the time last year?

I only started to physically feel well in early May. Then, the team kept on blowing leads, because there was no real closer. It was just done out of necessity for the team.

–What do you expect to be the biggest difference between Korea and here?

Since this is the highest level, I expect the hitters to be better. But, I am not going to get intimidated, and I’ll just concentrate on my game.

–They even use a different ball here.

I’ve thrown that ball during the World Baseball Classic (WBC), and I thought I adjusted to it faster than others. I didn’t have any problem with breaking balls or change-up. I thought it fit me well.

–When did you start thinking about the MLB, and how do you feel now that you got here?

I got to know that this is the best league by watching Park Chan Ho, and as I grew up as a player in Korea, it excited me to know that I was getting closer to this dream. Now, I can’t wait for the season to start.

–Any special reason for choosing the Orioles?

They made a good offer, and I thought I could get on the mound fast with this team.

–What’s your goal for the first season?

I am just thinking about getting on the mound, and staying there. 

–What did you think about America when you were here before?

I’ve experienced spring training camp here many times, and I’ve played in WBC.  Each time, I liked it here so much that I didn’t want to go back.

–How realistic is it for you to win a spot in the starting rotation?

Nothing has been determined. I am sure I’ll have to impress the manager, and give my very best whatever the role may end up being.

–You could have made more money by staying in Korea.

True, but I’ve been waiting for this chance for a long time. I couldn’t get here when I was a free agent three-years ago, and that’s all I’ve been thinking about all this time. My heart was already here, no matter what kind of offer they made. I just knew that I wanted to play in America.