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...