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KBO's Kiwoom Heroes sign ex-MLB All-Star Addison Russell

Sports 14:50 June 20, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- Former major league All-Star Addison Russell is bringing his talent to South Korea.

The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Saturday that they've signed Russell, the 2016 National League All-Star for the Chicago Cubs, for the remainder of the 2020 season for US$530,000.

The 26-year-old is replacing Taylor Motter, a utility player who was released on May 30 after batting just .114 in 10 games.

Russell, a first-round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2012, made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2015.

In this Getty Images file photo from July 19, 2019, Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs (L) hits a fielder's choice groundball during the bottom of the eighth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Yonhap)

He made his first and only All-Star team the following year, when he posted career highs of 21 home runs and 95 RBIs for the World Series champions.

Last year, Russell played 82 games and had a .237/.308/.391 line with nine homers and 23 RBIs.

From the end of 2018 to the beginning of the 2019 season, Russell served a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's policy on domestic violence.

For his big league career, Russell batted .242/.312/.392 with 60 home runs and 253 RBIs.

Russell played mostly shortstop and second base in the majors, and the Heroes are set at second base with former MVP Seo Geon-chang and at shortstop with perennial All-Star Kim Ha-seong.

They could have used an extra outfielder, but general manager Kim Chi-hyun said he opted for the infielder after discussions with the team.

"He's a versatile player who excels in every aspect of the game, whether it's hitting, fielding or base running," Kim said. "As a major league All-Star, he has already proven himself. We believe he'll be a tremendous addition to our ballclub."

The Heroes said Russell will undergo his physical and receive his work permit in the U.S. before arriving in South Korea. As per the government mandate on all international arrivals during the coronavirus pandemic, Russell will have to be quarantined for 14 days before he can join the Heroes.

In this Getty Images file photo from Aug. 24, 2019, Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs celebrates his home run during the bottom of the fifth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Yonhap)

KBO teams are each allowed to sign up to three foreign players, with a maximum two pitchers. All 10 teams this season are carrying two foreign pitchers and one foreign hitter. Since Motter's release, the Heroes had been the only club without the service of an import position player.

Entering Saturday's action, the Heroes ranked fifth among 10 teams with 225 runs scored. Their cleanup hitter Park Byung-ho has slumped to a .197 batting average in 37 games and missed the past two games with wrist and back issues. He's expected to be back in the lineup Saturday.

Through Friday's action, they ranked fourth with a 23-17 record, following three consecutive walk-off victories.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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