I don’t know what caliber of pitcher Suk-min Yoon is going to be, but I know that I like this guy already. From every recorded interaction in his press conference and other connections with the media there in Florida, he comes off as a young man who is as excited as a kid getting ready to open his birthday presents.
It sort of reminds me of the Russian comedian from a few years ago – Yakov Smirnoff – who was excited about everything American. In the pre-Soviet collapse era, he made jokes that contrasted his communist past with all the discoveries of his new experience of consumerism in America – always inserting the line “what a county!” In a famous 1985 beer commercial (video here) he said, “In America, you can always find a party; in Russia, the Party finds you!”
So Yoon is taking it all in and marveling at it (though he has had some playing experiences in the States in the past). “And every time I’ve been in the U.S. I don’t want to go back to Korea because the facilities here are so nice.” he said. “I’m happy to be here and looking forward to the season … I’m very excited … I also want the season to start right away because I’m so excited.”
That is just a small sampling of the excitement. He reminds me of a distance runner kid I had when coaching in high school. Most kids were glad to be out of school at 3:30, but most were at the same time a bit afraid of what sort of painful workout I was going to inflict upon them. But I had this one boy who every day with wide-eyed excitement would ask, “What are we going to do today; I can’t wait to go run!” Yoon is that kid, so it seems.
His name is YOON; his interpreter is Justion YOO, and his agent is Tad Hun YO. Yoo can’t make up stuff like this even if yo try! So Yoon is my new favorite guy, especially since he said his favorite place to eat is In-N-Out Burger – what a country!
So how will the Orioles use this excited new fellow, especially with the even newer fellow Ubaldo Jimenez now squeezing into an already crowded pitching situation? Well, the Orioles could start him in Norfolk; there is nothing to disallow that. Yoon wants to be a starter – most everyone does. He may have more value as a reliever on this team. Showalter and the coaching staff are going to have to work with it to see what they have. And in this case, there may not be enough time in spring training for a definitive answer. There are a lot of moving parts when evaluating this pitching staff.
And sadly, one of the parts who got moved in order to make room for Jimenez on the 40-man roster was Liam Hendriks. The Australian native was DFA-ed … hopefully he can clear waivers, but I’m not sure that can happen. Imagine a pitching staff with Wei-yin Chen (Taiwan), Yoon (Korea), Hendriks (Australia), Jimenez (Dominican), Alfredo Aceves (Mexico), and Tommy Hunter (‘Merica) all yuking it up together. Forget the game; you could sell tickets to watch that!