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Pitcher Yoon Suk-min blames himself for unsuccessful U.S. career

All Headlines 20:47 March 06, 2015

By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, March 6 (Yonhap) -- After rejoining his former South Korean team following an unsuccessful U.S. minor league season in the Baltimore Orioles system, right-hander Yoon Suk-min put the blame squarely on himself for his failure to reach the majors.

Yoon arrived at Incheon International Airport Friday, hours after the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced their signing of the pitcher to a four-year, 9 billion won ($US8.2 million) contract. It's the largest contract ever handed out to a free agent in the KBO, and ended Yoon's stay in the United States after 13 months.

Yoon, who'd signed a three-year deal with the Orioles in February last year, never pitched in the majors. He made 23 appearances, 18 of them starts, with the O's Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, and had a 4-8 record with a 5.74 ERA.

"There wasn't any particular reason that I struggled in the U.S.," Yoon told reporters. "I just didn't play well. I have nothing else to say."

Yoon wasn't invited to the Orioles' spring training last month and has been working on his own. He said he has thrown a few bullpen sessions and should be ready to pitch sometime during the KBO preseason, which starts Saturday.

Now that he's back, the 2011 KBO MVP said he will only look forward from here and on.

"No matter what the reason, I've made a decision to come back," Yoon added. "I will try to do the best I can and not have any regrets."

He is joining a team that has missed the playoffs for the past three years. The Tigers were considered an also-ran for 2015 but adding Yoon to the rotation could make them a sleeper.

"I want to help the Tigers reach the postseason," Yoon said. "During my first nine years with the Tigers, there was always pressure to perform and win. It will be the same this year. I think if everyone can come together and always keep our fans in mind, we should be able to have a good season."

On paper, the Tigers could have one of the KBO's best righty-lefty combinations at the top of the rotation. Yoon is an established starter with a solid track record. He has gone 73-59 with 44 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 303 appearances in the KBO.

Yang Hyeon-jong, the 27-year-old southpaw, is coming off the best season of his career. He was 16-8 with a 4.25 ERA in an offense-happy 2014 season and led all South Korean pitchers with 165 strikeouts.

They're joined by a pair of former major league pitchers, Philip Humber and Josh Stinson, former teammate of Yoon's in Norfolk last season.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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