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Chinese-born KBO pitcher turns down WBC offer

All Headlines 17:05 December 14, 2016

SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- Chinese-born Korean league pitcher Ju Kwon said Wednesday he has turned down an offer to play for his native country at next year's World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Ju, who pitches for the KT Wiz in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), said he will focus on pitching better for his pro club next season.

"It's a great honor to receive an offer from the Chinese national team, and I am quite thankful for that," Ju said. "But right now, pitching well for KT takes precedence. I pitched a great deal early in the year, and I think I need to mix in rest with some strengthening exercises to be able to contribute to the team next year."

In this file photo taken on Sept. 22, 2016, Ju Kwon of the KT Wiz throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in their Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The naturalized South Korean made his KBO debut in 2015, going 0-2 with an 8.51 ERA in 15 appearances. This year, the right-hander tossed 134 innings in 28 appearances, going 6-8 with a 5.10 ERA for the second-year franchise.

The 21-year-old was second in the Rookie of the Year voting this year.

John McLaren, China's manager, told MLB.com last week he was hoping to take several players with professional experience, including St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong and free agent pitcher Vance Worley. McLaren also mentioned Ju as a possible candidate, saying he could be a fifth starter in the majors.

The Wiz said they'd already told the Chinese national team late last month that Ju wouldn't be available for the WBC, but added they also wanted to respect the player's decision.

The WBC starts in early March. China is in Pool B with Japan, Cuba and Australia.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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