One of the major off-season news stories this year is a change in the KBO rules to allow teams to sign more foreign players. Previously, teams were allowed to have only 2 foreign players on their roster. Starting in 2014, teams will now be allowed to have 3 foreign players, but only 2 can play in any single game. In the past most teams opted to sign foreign pitchers, but due to the rule changes, there has been an influx of foreign position players in the KBO.
One of the new foreign players is NC Dinos first baseman Eric Thames. Thames made his MLB debut in 2011 for the Toronto Blue Jays. He also spent time in the Seattle, Baltimore, and Houston organizations before signing with NC in December 2013. On the first day of pre-season games, Thames turned in arguably the best performance among the new crop of foreign hitters. A brief article appeared in My Daily with some quotes from Thames. A translation is below.
NC's Eric Thames adjustment to Korea going off without a hitch
In a March 8 preseason game against the Lotte Giants Thames batted 3rd in the lineup and played first base going 2 for 3 at the plate with 1 RBI. Thames's 5th inning double tied the game at 1-1 for the Dinos. NC would go on to lose the game 5-1, but Thames was a bright spot for the team.
On a chilly day for baseball, Thames said "It's really cold, but the cheering fans were great. I really enjoy the atmosphere at the stadium. I'm excited to play the next game."
During the exhibition game, Thames had a chance to get a feel for the Korean pitchers. Thames is doing his best to learn all of the nuances of Korean pitching. "Korean pitchers throw a lot of breaking balls, and not just standard breaking pitches, there are underhand pitches and a lot of different things so I've really had to practice a lot."
Thames has only been in Korea for 5 days, and he has never visited Korea before.
When asked about his first impressions of Korea, Thames said "Two things. Coffee and waffles."
"The team provided an apartment for me and the area is great. It's a well developed city," Thames said. "There is a place nearby that sells coffee and waffles. It's really good. I've eaten there five days in a row." he laughed.
"The team, my teammates, the stadium, I'm really happy with everything and I'm excited," Thames said, appearing to have no major problems adjusting to Korea.
Scott, another new foreign player this year, went 0-2 with a walk in SK's 4-1 victory over the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon. Let's hope the weather warms up soon.