The first foreigner to be released is Hanwha Smith, “quickly recruiting a replacement pitcher”

 Hanwha pitcher Birch Smith (33) became the first foreign player to be released in the KBO League in the 2023 season. 

Hanwha announced on the 19th that it had requested the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to disclose a waiver for foreign pitcher Smith ahead of the game against Doosan in Daejeon. The Hanwha club added, “We plan to have a new foreign pitcher join the team as soon as possible.” 

Smith was recruited by Hanwha with an investment of 1 million dollars (a contract fee of 100,000 dollars, an annual salary of 700,000 dollars, and an incentive of 200,000 dollars). He made a substantial investment of $800,000 in guaranteed money, but it ended in vain as he pitched 60 pitches in 2⅔ innings against Gocheok Kiwoom on the 1st, which was the opening game of the season. 토토사이트

Smith, who suffered from an injury in the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball last year since his days in the American Major League, was evaluated as a pitcher who could succeed as long as he did not get sick because of his excellent pitch. In the spring camp practice game, he had no hits and no runs in 4⅓ innings in 2 games and 15 strikeouts in 3 games in 12⅔ innings in the exhibition game, with 2 runs and an earned run average of 1.42.

Coach Carlos Subero, who had entrusted domestic pitcher Min-Woo Kim with the opening game selection for the past two years, broke his own rules and dropped Smith as the opening game starter. However, the unexpected risk of injury erupted from the opening game. On the 1st, in the match against Kiwoom in Gocheok, he threw the 3rd pitch of the 3rd inning, 2 out, 1st and 2nd base, Edison Russell at bat, and showed symptoms of abnormalities in his body.

After beckoning to the dugout, Smith voluntarily grounded himself to 60 pitches, and that was his last appearance. Smith, who was excluded from the first team entry the next day, had X-ray and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) taken at two orthopedic clinics in Seoul on the 3rd. As a result of the examination, it was found that there was a slight damage to the shoulder muscles, which did not significantly affect pitching.

He received injection treatment and started playing catch ball from the 12th, but did not progress beyond that. Even in the results of the re-examination on the 17th, he showed some improvement, but he was not in a condition where he could throw the ball properly. Coach Subero also seemed to have virtually abandoned expectations of his return, saying, “There is no noticeable progress” regarding Smith’s condition ahead of the game on the 18th. 

The player himself felt uneasy about his physical condition and delayed his return schedule, and Hanwha also started Plan B without waiting any longer. Prospect Nam Ji-min came in as a substitute starter for Smith, but he is showing ups and downs. In a situation where the burden of the bullpen increased from the beginning of the season, he could not leave a single foreign pitcher vacant forever. 

Since it is the beginning of the season in April, it is difficult to recruit substitute players, but from the time Smith was recruited, we prepared a plan B in case of injury, and it was started earlier than expected. Last year, in mid-April, due to the accompanying injuries of Nick Kingham and Ryan Carpenter, Hanwha had a starting rotation without a foreign pitcher for two months and completely moved away from the ranking fight. In order not to repeat the mistakes of last year, we moved quickly this year.

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