온라인바카New foreign pitcher Mario Sanchez is set to make his KBO debut for the KIA Tigers.
KIA officially announced the signing of Sanchez to a $280,000-a-year contract on June 6. The right-hander, who spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues, pitched for the Tung Yi Lions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) this year, going 8-1 with a 1.44 ERA in 10 games and 62⅔ innings.
“Sanchez has been evaluated as a suitable substitute starter due to his reliable delivery, excellent game management skills, and a wide variety of pitches, and he pitched so well that he ranked first in the CPBL in wins and ERA in the first half of the year. He has a fastball that averages in the mid-to-high 140s and a curve, slider, and changeup,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez, who joined the team seven days after his visa was granted, trained with the players and will start the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League away game against KT Wiz on Sept. 9 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon. “I’m thinking about the innings I pitched in Taiwan and the number of pitches I threw. I’m thinking about that too,” and expressed his expectations for Sanchez.
The following is a one-on-one interview with Sanchez before the game on the 8th: -How are you feeling right now?
“My arm is in good shape, my body is in good shape, and I’m ready to throw tomorrow.”
-Did you have any problems adjusting to the one-hour time difference between Taiwan and Korea?
“It’s only about an hour, so I don’t think it’s been too much of a problem, but the first time I went to Taiwan, it took me about two weeks to adjust to the time difference, so it was hard, but now I’m fine.”
-You’ve had some good results in Taiwan this year, how do you feel about that?
“I think it’s natural as a pitcher to always want good results and wins, and for me, it was a reward for all the hard work I put into practicing.”
-What do you consider your strengths and pitching style?
“I think it’s my command, and I always try to pay a lot of attention to my pitches like I did in my last start.”-Do you hear or think anything about the strike zone in the KBO?
“Like yesterday, I saw the strike zone on TV during the game, and I think it’s a fair and just strike zone, because the umpire calls it anyway, so it’s different.”
-Foreign players who are familiar with the KBO.
-Eric Peddy (NC Dinos) played with me in the minor leagues, so I know a lot of Venezuelan players in Korea. I know Albert Suarez, Jose Pirela (Samsung Lions), and William Cuevas (KT), but Pedi is the one I can say I’m closest to.”
-Did you get any advice from players with KBO experience when you came to Korea?
“I haven’t heard any explanations or experiences about the KBO, so I’m starting in a completely new environment.”-How do you feel about the KBO now that you’ve been here for a while?
“On the surface, Korean hitters seem to have more power, but to me, it’s a game where the bases are the same and the pitcher throws and the batter has to hit. I don’t think baseball changes no matter what country you go to.”
-Foreign players usually get help from a fellow foreign player who has been playing since the beginning of the season when they arrive mid-season, but KIA chose to change both. On how he’s adjusting to the league on his own.
“It was strange because it was my first time, but I think I’m adjusting quickly because everyone on the team has welcomed me, and we’ve gotten to know each other like we’ve been playing together all season.”-Who has been the most welcoming teammate?
“I can’t pick one person, the whole team came up to me for three days to say hello, so I can’t pick one person.”
-On if there are any goals he’s set for himself since coming to Korea, even though it’s the middle of the season.
“The first goal is for the team to win, which is what everyone wants. I think that when we put all those goals together, other things can happen, big things can happen.”