“I declined at first. Because I’m a reserve FA… ”
KT bullpen pitcher Ju Kwon (28) participated in the 2017 WBC as a member of the Chinese national team. The WBC can choose the nationality of the parents according to the competition rules. Ju Kwon was of Korean-Chinese origin, so he was able to pitch for China wearing the five-star red flag. At the WBC in March, which will be held for the first time in six years, Sovereign will wear a Chinese uniform. Of course, Sovereignty is a Korean who has been officially naturalized.
However, one surprising fact was revealed. It is that sovereignty was originally reluctant to join the Chinese national team. On the 12th (hereafter Korean time), at KT’s Spring Camp Ji Kino Sports Complex, he said, “I have already been contacted by China for last year’s postseason.”
At that time, Ju Kwon politely refused to join the Chinese national team. The reason is that he is a reserve free agent who is qualified to enter the 2023-2024 free agency market. He said, “I was ahead of the FA season, and at first I declined.” However, he opened up to China’s repeated requests and decided to join the WBC national team.
Sovereignty says, “We are continuing to communicate with China.” However, it is not subject to detailed management from the China Baseball Association. He has not even received a WBC official ball. Of course, KT also has pitchers who go to the WBC, so it is an environment where they can adapt to the official ball.
Ju Kwon digested the spring camp at KT and joined the Chinese national team according to the WBC’s official evaluation match schedule. Korea and China are in the same geography, but sovereignty was accepted by the Chinese Baseball Association on the condition that it not pitch in the Korean game. He said, “I was young in the 2017 competition. I don’t even remember that time. I also want to face famous players in this tournament.” 안전놀이터
It is known that the Chinese national team includes players from the minor leagues. However, it is expected that there will be virtually no players whose careers are better than sovereignty. For Chinese players, joining the national team of sovereignty playing in the KBO league can be of great help in enriching individual baseball.
However, a twist is hidden. In fact, sovereignty is not at the level of being very fluent in Chinese. Sovereignty said, “(China) doesn’t make sense. Because I am Korean. He came to Korea at the stage of learning Chinese. I couldn’t learn everything.” It means that communication with Chinese players is not very smooth.
Last season, in 58 games, 3 wins, 3 losses, 15 holds, 1 save, and an average ERA of 3.91. He threw 573 cumulative innings over his last eight years. Compared to previous years, last year was a little worse, and it is true that joining the WBC was not an easy decision for sovereignty ahead of the preliminary free agent season.
Still, sovereignty was resolute. “I prepare for the season as usual. It feels like preparing for the season. I’ve thrown a lot of innings lately, but I haven’t been hurt yet.” He said, “Last season, after the middle of the season, luck did not follow. After checking with the data team, there were no major problems with my pitching.” Sovereignty started running again ahead of the important period of WBC and FA.