Kim Kwang-hyun rejoins the Wyverns for spring training
St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun joined the SK Wyverns, his former club, at their spring training camp on Wednesday.
Kim arrived at the Wyverns training camp at Kang Chang-hak Baseball Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju on Wednesday, after receiving private training in Busan and Gimhae, South Gyeongsang. He will train with the Wyverns for a week.
Kim warmed up by jogging around the ground in his red St. Louis training suit before practicing with Wyverns bullpen catcher Kwon Nu-ri.
Kim could face a bigger challenge with the Cardinals this year. Unlike the American League, the National League, where the Cardinals play, does not have a designated hitter system. That means that pitchers are required to take a position in the batting rotation.
While designated hitters were temporarily permitted last year, this year the National League will add pitchers back to the batting lineup. As the KBO has a designated hitter system, Kim has no real experience at bat.
Kim asked Wyverns' coach Cho Dong-hwa to help him improve his batting ability.
The Incheon club was Kim's home for his entire KBO career.
The 32-year-old joined the Wyverns in 2007, rising through the ranks to become the team's ace and playing a crucial role in the club's 2018 Korean Series victory. Since moving to St. Louis, Kim has returned to Munhak Baseball Stadium in Incheon, the home of the Wyverns, whenever he had the opportunity, even appearing with a bouquet of flowers for fellow pitcher Yoon Hi-sang's retirement last year.
SK Telecom is currently in the process of selling the Wyverns to Shinsegae Group, with supermarket chain Emart to manage the team. The Wyverns will keep their current name throughout spring training, but are expected to be rebranded at some point in March before the season begins in April.
Kim met with the Wyverns' new manager Kim Won-hyung, but the two didn't discuss the takeover. According to Kim Won-hyung, Kim Kwang-hyun did joke that he didn't have a home to return to anymore. In fact, as Kim joined the Cardinals through the posting system, he is still under contract with the Wyverns and will have to return to the club if he returns to the KBO.
Kim made a strong start to his MLB career last year, finishing with a 1.62 ERA, three wins and a save over eight games. He even started in the postseason, pitching three and two-thirds innings in the Wild Card Series.
Kim will spend the Lunar New Year holidays in Korea and then head to Florida to join the Cardinals for spring training later this month.
BY KIM HYO-KYUNG, SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]