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Eyeing MLB return, KBO MVP Lindblom hoping to keep improving

All Headlines 17:20 December 09, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- At 32, an age when some athletes hit the down slope of their careers, American right-hander Josh Lindblom believes he can still get better as a pitcher.

As he eyes a return to Major League Baseball (MLB) following a five-year stint in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Lindblom, the 2019 regular season MVP here, said on Monday he wants to land with a team that can help him continue his development.

Josh Lindblom, formerly of the Doosan Bears in the Korea Baseball Organization, poses for photos on the red carpet ahead of the Golden Glove Award ceremony at COEX in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2019. (Yonhap)

"I think the biggest thing for me is to find a team that's going to help me get better," Lindblom told reporters before attending the annual Golden Glove Awards ceremony in Seoul. "I don't feel like I am done getting better yet. Being in an organization that can help me do that is important to me."

Lindblom enjoyed his best KBO season in 2019, as he grabbed the MVP award last month after going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 189 strikeouts. He led the KBO in wins and strikeouts, and finished second in ERA, coming up one category shy of winning the pitching Triple Crown.

Lindblom is favored to win his second straight Golden Glove -- presented to the best overall player at each position, not necessarily the best fielder -- and it will likely be his last.

Lindblom has reportedly drawn interest from multiple big league clubs, including the Houston Astros, the team that first drafted him out of high school in 2005, and the Toronto Blue Jays.

"It feels good to be wanted, and to have teams that you can help win games," said Lindblom, who will fly to San Diego on Tuesday to attend the annual MLB Winter Meetings, a gathering of team executives, agents and job seekers. "It's an honor. I am excited to see where I will end up next year."

Lindblom didn't sign with the Astros and chose to attend college instead. The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft out of Purdue University. He made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2011 and went 5-8 with a 4.10 ERA in 114 big league games with five clubs.

In this file photo from Oct. 22, 2019, Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears pitches against the Kiwoom Heroes in Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Lindblom first joined the KBO with the Lotte Giants before the 2015 season. He played briefly with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017 before rejoining the Giants in midseason. The pitcher then signed with the Bears for the 2018 season and went 35-7 with a 2.68 ERA in 56 starts in his two seasons with them.

Lindblom said he's become "a more complete pitcher" since the last time he pitched in the majors in 2017, pointing to his use of analytics and advanced technology to stay ahead of the competition.

Lindblom added that the five seasons he spent here were crucial in his professional and personal development.

"I've been in professional baseball for 12 years and five of them have been in this country," he said. "I've found myself as a player and I've gotten better here. I've learned a lot about myself. I've grown as a player and a person. When I step away from here, that's what I am going to remember the most."

Lindblom said he'd like to return to South Korea in the future, but likely not as a player because "I might be too old."

"It'd be fun just to come back (and) watch games as a fan," he said with a smile. "My (three) kids grew up here, and we have a lot of memories here. To come back and experience things again when they're older will be a lot of fun."

Asked what he'll miss the most about South Korea, Lindblom said, "It's the people."

"Everyone's so kind here and so helpful, and they made me feel like home," he said. "And I am thankful for the KBO fans and appreciative of their support. And my (Doosan Bears) teammates feel like my family now."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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