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Cardinals' Kim Kwang-hyun to leave Florida for St. Louis to train: source

All News 15:58 March 31, 2020

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- Stuck in limbo during the coronavirus pandemic, St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun will leave the team's spring training site for its home city this week to continue his training, a source close to the South Korean player said Tuesday.

The source said the rookie left-hander and his interpreter, Craig Choi, will travel from Jupiter, Florida, to St. Louis on Tuesday (local time). Since Major League Baseball (MLB) canceled spring training and delayed the start of the regular season nearly three weeks ago in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Kim had remained in Jupiter, while most of his teammates had gone home to different cities or settled in St. Louis.

In this file photo from Feb. 26, 2020, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Miami Marlins in a Major League Baseball spring training game at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. (Yonhap)

"A couple of players have been working out at Busch Stadium," the source said, referring to the Cardinals' home park. "I think the training environment will be better there than in Jupiter."

After spending 13 years as a high-end starter in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Kim signed a two-year deal worth US$8 million with the Cardinals last December. Kim went into spring training with an eye on a spot in the starting rotation and strung together eight shutout innings with 11 strikeouts against one walk across four appearances, including two starts.

That early impression went for naught as the MLB was forced to wipe out spring training. The regular season was slated to begin last Thursday, but it has been pushed back to late May at the earliest, following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cancel or postpone gatherings of 50 or more people.

Among other South Korean big leaguers, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays is still in the team's spring training home, Dunedin, Florida. This is Ryu's first season with the Blue Jays, and he is unable to travel to Toronto after Canada closed its borders to foreign nationals in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tampa Bay Rays' infielder Choi Ji-man returned to South Korea last week to continue his work. Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers, a 16-year big league vet, is staying put.

In this file photo from Feb. 12, 2020, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals does a long toss during spring training at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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