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Nexen ace Andy Van Hekken surprised by landslide Golden Glove win

All Headlines 18:52 December 09, 2014

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- Andy Van Hekken, the left-handed starter for the Nexen Heroes, on Tuesday grabbed his first Golden Glove Award in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in a landslide.

Van Hekken, the league's only 20-game winner who finished second with 178 strikeouts and third with a 3.51 ERA, was a well-deserving winner. The only foreign winner this year said afterward he wasn't surprised by the win itself, but by how handily he claimed the trophy.

Van Hekken earned 278 out of 321 votes for his first Golden Glove. Rick van den Hurk of the Samsung Lions, who had the best ERA in the league with 3.18, finished a distant second with 34 votes.

"Rick had a great year, but for some reason, he couldn't get the wins," Van Hekken said of the hard-luck right-hander who was limited to 13 wins. "Our relievers that were up for the award (closer Son Seung-lak and setup man Han Hyun-hee) pitched great all year long, but I was surprised how big the margin was. I am honored to win."

Van Hekken is the first foreign Golden Glove winner since Kia Tigers pitcher Aquilino Lopez in 2009. He also flew in from his home in Michigan to attend the ceremony; it's rare for foreign players in the league to show up for offseason award ceremonies.

Van Hekken said he had a good reason to come.

"I thought I had a good chance just based on the history of the award," he said with a smile. "The player who has the most wins usually gets the award or has a good chance of winning. The Heroes asked me if I would come, and I asked them if they thought I had a good chance of winning. And they said yes."

On the strength of a strong season, Van Hekken on Dec. 1 signed on for another season with the Heroes. He made US$350,000 this year and the Heroes will pay him $650,000 next year. They also offered him a $50,000 signing bonus and $100,000 in options.

Van Hekken said he's already looking forward to his fourth KBO season.

"I was happy we came to an agreement pretty quickly," he said. "I feel grateful that they would want me to come back. I am looking forward to getting back at it again and meeting the team in Arizona for spring training."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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