S. Korea’s highest paid pitcher seeks ‘turning point’ on new team

January 7, 2015
Jang Won-jun of the Doosan Bears speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Jan. 7, 2015. (Yonhap)

Jang Won-jun of the Doosan Bears speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Jan. 7, 2015. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Jang Won-jun, South Korea’s most expensive pitcher who signed a record-setting free agent contract with the Doosan Bears, said Wednesday he wants to have a “turning point” in his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) career on a new club.

The Bears formally introduced Jang at their home park, Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, on Wednesday, a little more than a month after inking him to a four-year, 8.4 billion won (US$7.6 million) contract. It was the largest deal ever handed out to a pitcher in the KBO.

“I’d like to thank Doosan for recognizing my value,” Jang said. “I will try hard to return the team’s faith with good results.”

Curiously, the left-hander turned down an even bigger offer from the Giants to sign with the Bears. The Giants put a four-year deal worth 8.8 billion won on the table, but Jang said money wasn’t his biggest concern.

“I needed a new turning point and a fresh environment,” said Jang, who pitched nine seasons for the Giants. “And Doosan was the right fit. This has been a solid ball club, and I wanted to play on this team someday.”

Jang, 29, has a career record of 85-77 in 258 appearances with a 4.18 ERA. He was 10-9 with a 4.59 ERA last season. He’d served in the military in 2012 and 2013. In the four seasons before joining the military, Jang emerged as one of the KBO’s top left-handed starters, with 52 victories and eight complete games in that span.

Jang said he hoped to eat up at least 170 innings, now that each club will play 144 games in 2015, up from 128 as the KT Wiz are set to join as the KBO’s 10th team. Other than that, Jang didn’t discuss any personal statistical goal.

“Doosan failed to make the playoffs last year, and I will try to help the team win the championship this year,” Jang added. “I am not going to develop any new pitches. My focus will be on improving my command.”