Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Week To Go

     February 7th is the day when we board the plane in Las Vegas with a ticket to Seoul. I've been told that we won't be leaving the airport in Seoul, however. I guess the plan is to head to South Korea and then get on another plane to the Japanese island of Okinawa, famed for its role in WW2. This is where we'll spend roughly another 5 weeks getting ready for the start of the KBO season. Exhibition games start February 23rd and I can't wait to face some hitters. The offseason for a baseball player works in 3 different phases. The first phase is the initial couple weeks of rest where you spend no time at all thinking of baseball or even training for a majority of guys. I enjoy that first part with my fair share of fishing, golfing, and eating foods that aren't a nutritionist's dream. The second phase is spent working hard in the weight room, getting as strong as possible for the upcoming season. The last phase is the baseball specific part where you are getting back into the flow of the game. This is where I have been at for the last month or so and it's time for it to end. I want to be out there breaking bats and doing my best to get hitters out.
     With all that being said, my time here is not over as we still have another 7 workouts to go. Today was our first day back after an off day on Tuesday, where I had a blast at the Phoenix Coyotes game, the NHL team out here in the desert. I was welcomed in the clubhouse today with a brand new present from one of the guys! The picture of my new glove is attached and I know LG fans will love the color. On top of that, I had some very nice Under Armour running shoes come in from my agent so I am set to go. I'm currently trying to think of anything I can buy here to take with me that won't be so easy to get over in Seoul. All the guys on the team love to shop here. On off days several of my teammates venture to the factory outlets for a variety of brands like Nike and Under Armour. I just need to make sure I have enough socks because every time I do laundry, magically half of my socks disappear. I've never understood it and I don't think it was meant to be understood, kind of like the Bermuda Triangle.
     Baseball has been going great. I've thrown 2 bullpens so far, with the second one being better than the first which is a good sign. I'll probably throw 2 more before I leave, face hitters in live batting practice in Okinawa and then its game time!! The season for baseball is incredibly long and you have to remember to do all the little things right to ensure your health. This means rotator cuff work, a diligent weight lifting schedule, proper nutrition and supplementation and of course, ample rest. The season is a marathon, not a sprint so each day counts.
     Tomorrow is a standard day for us beginning at 9 AM and ending roughly at 1. From there, I'm headed to the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, a PGA tour event. I love watching pro golfers because they are so much better than me at what they do. I love golf as much as anyone, but these guys make me feel foolish. With that being said, I'm currently taking challengers for a match in Korea sometime this summer. If my putting is on that day, you're going to have a tough time! The person who is accompanying me to the golf tournament is playing for the Doosan Bears this coming season (don't hate me LG fans). Its Chris Volstad and he was my teammate in AAA in 2013. Should be lots of fun. If anyone reading this has any questions at all or comments, please ask away on Twitter @CRiordan22. Until next time...

Monday, January 20, 2014

5 Days In and Going Strong

So its been 5 days since I first met the guys and put on a LG uniform for the first time. Every day gets a 

little bit easier as I learn the way things are done. None of this would be easy without my right hand 

man, Jay. He is my translator that follows me everywhere (and makes sure I don't myself look stupid!) 

Jay has been a translator in the Korean Baseball Organization for a few years and worked last year for 

the Hanwha Eagles. We've been getting along great and he really does look out for me, which I truly 

appreciate. Jay is already looking into how he recommends I get from my residence to the stadium once 

the season starts in Seoul. On top of Jay being a baseball fan and good translator, he loves golf. He has 

explained to me multiple times how it is substantially more expensive to play golf in Korea than it is in 

the U.S. Most of my spare time is spent either playing golf or fishing so I can talk about it for days. I'm 

going to do my best to take him golfing before we leave for Okinawa, Japan. 
     As far as baseball activities, I'm getting used to the Korean way. Some things are very different and 

others are almost identical to the way I've done it in the states. Pitcher fielding practice or PFP's are the 

same with a huge emphasis on doing it the right way and taking lots of repetitions. The part that really 

differs is the conditioning. The last couple years I have done all my running at shorter distances and 

high intensities. The running thus far has been lots of longer distances and an ample amount of time to 

catch your breath between reps. After the second day of running close to 2 miles, I was pretty pretty 

sore. As we go along, the training coaches have made it clear I have the freedom to alter my program to 

cater to the way I have done it in the past. I will see how my body reacts and what adjustments need to 

be made.

     Today was an off day so I was delighted to be able to hit the golf course and actually got paired up 

with Willie Wilson, an ex-Kansas City Royal from the 80's who is now in their Hall of Fame. Pretty 

cool. The rest of the guys took a shopping trip to an outlet mall an hour away to buy American clothes 

and goods at a much cheaper price than it would be in Seoul. I'm excited to get back to work tomorrow 

and work on getting my body ready for the rigors of the next 8 months. I can't stress enough how great 

the LG Twins' fans have been to be, showing nothing but support and hope for a great season. I'm very 

eager to contribute and to explore Korea.  It is very refreshing to wake up and be excited about going to 

work. I'm very lucky and blessed to be able to play baseball for a living and I owe it to my family and 

fans to give it my all each and every day. I'm posting two pictures: one being "Riordan" in Korean on 

the back of my jersey and two being the Korean game baseball. The ball is slightly different than an 

American baseball because the seams are a little higher. If anyone ever has any questions for me or 

comments, please ask away @CRiordan22 on Twitter. Until next time...


Thursday, January 16, 2014

First Day in Arizona

That is how to say hello in Korean. So far its the only thing I know but I will try my hardest to learn as much as possible. Let me start off by saying that I cannot wait to experience what I am about to experience over the course of the next 9 months. Playing baseball in Korea is something few people get to take part in and I am eager to get this season going. The team I play for, the LG Twins, are based in Seoul, South Korea and have a much storied history. I will do my best to take it day by day and to write as much as I can to share my experiences with as many people as possible. 
     With that being said, today was my first day as part of the team. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the other two foreign players last night at the airport. His name is Radhames Liz, he is from the Dominican Republic, and this is his 4th year with the team. He couldn't be a nicer guy and he was happy to help me with whatever I needed. I also received a healthy supply of baseball gear last night bearing the LG Twins logo. I felt like I was ready to go and prepared enough to get going on Thursday for the first day of workouts. 
      My first interaction with the team was at lunch before we headed to the ballpark, which is the Dodgers facility in Glendale, Arizona. I walked downstairs with Liz and into a room full of possibly 30-35 South Korean men all wearing LG Twins gear. I was the only person wearing street clothes so I was off to a fast start. I'm not a person easily rattled or shaken in awkward social situations whatsoever. In fact I often love putting other people in those situations to get a quick chuckle but this was a taste of my own medicine. I'll admit I started to get a little hot and sweaty as I approached the food line. At that point, players started walking up to me and introducing themselves as politely as possible so it put me at ease. I then met the manager, Kim Ki-Tae, who explained he was very excited to have me and welcomed me a few times. Lunch was great. For those who have never had Korean food, I recommend you try it. I'm not going to lie and say I always know what I'm eating but it tastes good and it can be pretty spicy, which I also enjoy. 
      From there, we got on a bus to head to the complex. I walked into the clubhouse to meet the other American on the team, Josh Bell. He'll be playing both first and third base for us and we both smiled indicating we're ready to do this. I found my locker with the number 57 on it, which is going to be the Cory Riordan special this coming season. We then made our way outside to the bleachers near the field. The whole team sat down for staff introductions. A few coaches spoke and then sure enough, he motioned for both Josh and I to make our way to the front of the bleachers to be introduced to the team. I gave a nice bow to the team and said annyeonghaseyo. This is how to pronounce those Korean characters at the top of this. I made a quick 3 line speech through my translator for the team indicating I can't to get to Korea and how I will do whatever it takes to help them win and be a good teammate. After a raucous applause(not really), I sat back down and listened to lots of words I had no clue of the meaning.
      It was then stretch time which is something I wasn't quite prepared for. It lasted approximately 45 minutes and consisted of several stretches and motions including push-ups and sit-ups. Amongst all this, the younger guys on the team are screaming things which are then answered by the team screaming back. I asked the translator, Nick, what all that meant and he told me they were Korean military chants meant to pump up the troops. Very interesting and cool. Us pitchers threw, then went to the weight room for shoulder care and abs, followed by conditioning. Our day was done. 
     I was told the days will be longer from now on consisting of morning and afternoon workouts divided by lunch at the clubhouse. I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I'm eager to find out. I will do my best to update this as many times as possible and will post pictures as they come along. Until next time...