By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- A U.S.-based sports consulting firm announced Thursday it will organize an inaugural seminar for American baseball players on competing and living in South Korea.
Global Sporting Integration (GSI), which aims to help baseball players adjust to playing in different environments, said it will host the first annual Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Seminar from Jan. 12 to 14 in Surprise, Arizona.
GSI said it has recruited former KBO pitcher Ryan Sadowski to help run the seminar. Sadowski pitched three seasons for the Lotte Giants in the KBO, after a brief stint with the San Francisco Giants in 2009.
Sadowski was 29-24 with a 4.03 ERA in 81 appearances in his three KBO seasons. The 32-year-old American also won over fans with his refreshing candor in social media, and learned enough Korean to start tweeting in the new language while playing here.
"Educating foreign players about Korea before the season is a key component to giving players the opportunity to perform at their highest level," Sadowski said.
Lee Han-gil, the South Korean CEO of GSI, noted that Americans coming to play baseball in the KBO face a slew of off-field challenges, such as grasping the Korean seniority system and simply navigating through daily life in the new country.
"When a KBO team signs a foreign player, the team is not simply adding a new member to its roster; it is bringing a person to start a new life in a foreign environment," Lee said. "The challenges that players face while transitioning to Korean baseball have cost many promising players their careers, resulting in large financial losses and stress for both the players and their clubs."
GSI said the seminar will include interactive educational sessions on Korean culture, baseball, and cuisine.
The KBO first allowed its teams to sign foreign players in 1998. Starting in 2014, the KBO allowed clubs to sign three foreign players, one more than they had previously. The NC Dinos, which joined the KBO in 2013, were permitted to carry one extra foreign player than the rest of the league for their first two seasons, and had four players from overseas in 2014. The three-player cap will apply to the Dinos starting in 2015.
The KT Wiz, which will become the 10th KBO team next season, will have four foreign players on their rosters in 2015 and 2016.
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