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Foreign pitchers to start first games of new baseball season

All Headlines 15:57 March 27, 2017

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Foreign pitchers filled the list of the Opening Day starters in the 2017 Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) season announced Monday.

The new season will begin Friday with all 10 clubs taking the field. And all 10 teams will have their foreign pitchers start their first games of the season, as announced by their managers during the annual KBO media day in Seoul.

The Doosan Bears, the two-time reigning champions, will start American right-hander Dustin Nippert for the seventh straight Opening Day.

Nippert won the regular season MVP last year by leading the league with 22 wins and a 2.95 ERA.

The Bears will host the Hanwha Eagles at Seoul's Jamsil Stadium to begin their title defense. The Eagles will counter with former major leaguer Carlos Villanueva, who will be making his KBO regular season debut. Villanueva has 11 big league seasons under his belt, and made 51 appearances for the San Diego Padres last year.

In this file photo taken on Oct. 29, 2016, Dustin Nippert of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the NC Dinos during the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. Nippert will start the Opening Day on March 31, 2017. (Yonhap)

Two other Seoul clubs will go toe-to-toe, as the Nexen Heroes host the LG Twins at Gocheok Sky Dome.

The Heroes will have left-hander Andy Van Hekken on the mound. The American southpaw is in his sixth season with the Heroes. He left for Japan at the start of last season but rejoined the KBO club in midseason and helped the Heroes reach the postseason for the fifth consecutive year.

The Twins will send Henry Sosa for the opener. The Dominican right-hander is entering his sixth KBO season, third with the Twins. American David Huff was a strong candidate to get the Opening Day nod, but he came down with a knee injury during spring training and will miss the start of the regular season.

The NC Dinos, runner-up to the Bears last year, will have American right-hander Jeff Manship, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians in last year's World Series before coming to the KBO over the winter. The Dinos will host the Lotte Giants at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, and face American left-hander Brooks Raley. It will be Raley's second Opening Day assignment in three seasons.

At Incheon SK Happy Dream Park, the home team SK Wyverns will meet the KT Wiz for the second straight Opening Day. The Wyverns will have third-year right-hander Merrill Kelly on the mound against first-year American pitcher Donn Roach for the Wiz.

The Samsung Lions will bring the Kia Tigers to Daegu Samsung Lions Park, with Zach Petrick making his KBO debut. The Tigers will counter with Hector Noesi, who went 15-5 in his first KBO season in 2016.

The KBO teams can each have up to three foreign players, with a minimum of one position player. All 10 clubs are carrying two pitchers and one position player this season.

In this file photo taken on July 26, 2016, Merrill Kelly of the SK Wyverns delivers a pitch against the Hanwha Eagles during their Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Hanwha Life Insurance Eagles Park in Daejeon. Kelly will start the Wyverns' 2017 Opening Day on March 31, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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