Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin poses on his arrival at Incheon International Airport, Thursday. Ryu said that he will soon come up with a decision on whether to pitch in the upcoming World Baseball Classic in March.
By Kang Seung-woo
With Ryu Hyun-jin striking a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the left-handed hurler's participation in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is leaning toward a no-show, despite him opting to speak on the issue later.
The 25-year-old returned home Thursday after signing a six-year, $36 million deal with the club in the National League West division earlier this week and said he has yet to conclude whether to pitch for Korea in baseball's only worldwide international competition, scheduled for March 2 to 19 next year.
"I cannot clearly talk about my participation now. I will make an announcement soon," he said on his arrival at Incheon International Airport.
Ryu, who was an All-Star in each of his seven seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), was included on the provisional roster for the WBC, announced last month.
His indecision comes after his agent Scott Boras said last month that Ryu will not pitch in the WBC because he needs to get ready for his rookie season in the majors.
If he wishes to throw for Team Korea, it remains to be seen whether the Dodgers will give the nod to his participation as the WBC conflicts with the spring training schedule.
During the period, star players will start gearing up for a new season, but those who are not assured of a spot on big league rosters try to impress coaching staff in practice and exhibition games.
Although Ryu, who has spent his entire career in Korea, is projected to become the No. 3 pitcher in the Dodger rotation, he will still have to impress the team. As part of adjusting to a new scene, he would be better off reporting to spring training camp and spending time with his new teammates.
In addition, Ryu has represented Korea internationally since he joined the KBO in 2006.
From the 2006 Doha Asian Games to the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 2009 WBC, he has always pitched for the national team. He lasted 51 2/3 innings in 15 games to post a 2.96 ERA on the international stage including a 1-0, 2.57 ERA in the 2009 WBC.
As a result, there is a growing call for him to skip the competition this time to focus on his first season in Major League Baseball. Ahead of the 2009 edition, Park Chan-ho and Lee Seung-yeop, both of whom contributed to Korea reaching the semifinals in the maiden tournament, also opted out of the WBC to focus on their teams.
Team Korea manager Ryu Joong-il said Tuesday that he will know the situation within this month after a national team coach meets Ryu.
Meanwhile, Choo Shin-soo, who has recently been traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Cincinnati Reds, said last month that he will sit out the upcoming tournament.