By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- Former major league All-Star Addison Russell will arrive in South Korea on Wednesday to join his new Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, Kiwoom Heroes.
The Heroes announced Monday that Russell will land at Incheon International Airport, just west of Seoul, Wednesday afternoon. The Heroes announced their signing of the 2016 National League All-Star for the Chicago Cubs on June 20.
Russell will enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine, as required by the South Korean government for all international arrivals during the coronavirus pandemic. The Heroes will put Russell up in a pension in Yangpyeong, about 55 kilometers east of Seoul, and have set up a batting cage and other equipment to help him train while in quarantine.
Manager Son Hyuk said once the 14 days are up, Russell will appear in a couple of minor league games before joining the Heroes.
The Heroes signed Russell for the remainder of the 2020 season at US$530,000. The 26-year-old replaces Taylor Motter, a utility player who was released on May 30 after batting just .114 in 10 games.
A first-round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2012, Russell made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2015.
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 only shortstop (460 games) and second base (149 games) 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. Son has hinted that he will put Russell in his natural postition at shortstop and move other pieces around the infield.
Kim has started three of the past five games at third base, while Kim Hye-seong, a utilityman who has appeared at second base, shortstop and third base this season, made his outfield debut in left last Thursday.
KBO teams are each allowed to sign up to three foreign players, with a maximum two pitchers. All 10 teams had two foreign pitchers and one foreign hitter at the start of this season.
The Hanwha Eagles have replaced outfielder Jared Hoying with Brandon Barnes, while the SK Wyverns have released pitcher Nick Kingham and are looking for a new import pitcher.
The Heroes are second in the 10-team KBO at 33-21, four games behind the NC Dinos. They're third in runs with 314, and fourth in on-base plus slugging percentage with .795.
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