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First-place club still waiting on import to break out at the plate

All Headlines 12:41 April 20, 2018

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- The Doosan Bears, winners of two of the past three South Korean baseball titles, are in first place so far in 2018, and perhaps the most remarkable thing about that is they have reached the top while getting virtually zero production from their import hitter, Jimmy Paredes.

At 16-5, they're one game ahead of the SK Wyverns in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). And the lead could have been even larger if Paredes had done even a half-decent job at the plate.

KBO teams are allowed three foreign players each, with a maximum of two pitchers. And all 10 clubs have used two of the spots on pitchers, and they've signed one foreign hitter each with hopes of adding some punch to the heart of the order.

But Paredes has been the worst among 10 foreign position players this season.

In this file photo from March 13, 2018, Jimmy Paredes of the Doosan Bears strikes out against the Kia Tigers during the top of the third inning of their Korea Baseball Organization preseason game at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

He opened the regular season batting .179 (7-for-39) with one home run and one RBI in 12 games. The Bears even demoted him to the minors briefly so Paredes could get his act together. He did show some life in the Futures League, batting .360 (9-for-25) with a home run and five RBIs in six games.

He made his return to the big stage in Thursday's home game against the Hanwha Eagles at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. Batting eighth and playing right field, Paredes went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before getting lifted.

He's now batting .167 for the year. And he has zero hits in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Paredes, a switch hitter who has played second base, third base, left field and right field in the U.S., has a career .251 batting average in the majors with 20 home runs and 100 RBIs in 332 games. When they signed him last December, the Bears said they liked his versatility on defense and his pop at the plate.

But he has only been able to hit pitches around the middle of the plate, and hasn't made any adjustments on inside or outside pitches. Paredes has gone 0-for-11 on pitches on the inside or lower inside part of the plate, and 0-for-11 on pitches over the outer half of the plate.

The Bears can afford to wait on Paredes because the rest of the lineup has been doing well. And they have had a recent precedent of a foreign batter who started out slow before bouncing back. In 2016, Nick Evans spent some time in the Futures League early in the season, but ended up batting .308 with 24 homers and 81 RBIs in 118 games that year.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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