DENVER – On Saturday, Seunghwan Oh entered the Colorado Rockies clubhouse for the first time. The 36-year-old right-handed reliever is a sight for sore eyes as the maligned purple bullpen badly needed another weapon.
The weapon that Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black has been given is a versatile and strong one. Oh has turned a 2.68 ERA over 47 innings in 2018. The one time St. Louis Cardinals closer, now in his third season in the show, has worked multiple innings, entered the game with runners inherited and has pitched in any inning, no matter how many days rest he’s received.
“We will see Oh pitching late in the game anywhere between the sixth and ninth innings,” Black told Rox Pile and other members of the Denver media on Saturday afternoon. “He will be a vital member of our winning formula.”
Oh has never been traded before, not even in Korea, where he first pitched professionally in front of his home countrymen.
“It’s not as common as in the States that a transaction happens so it’s kinda weird for me. I’m trying my best to have my poker face on,” Oh said with a smile through longtime translator Eugene Koo. “I wasn’t expecting it (the trade). It was a surprise.
Oh will be just the third Korean to play for the Denver Nine and the first since 2007.
“I want to represent Korea and want to be known as the Korean pitcher here,” Oh said. “I don’t want to speak to my game, I want to show it here and hopefully the fans show me love and see it at the ballpark live.”
Oh does not speak much English so he relies pretty heavily on Koo, who himself becomes part of the team. In fact, the Cincinnati native already has a locker in the clubhouse right next to Oh’s.
“There’s some understanding there,” Black said of Oh’s English. “Ross Adkins, Mark Shapiro and John Gibbons all said good things about him. Good guy, wonderful pitcher..”
“The language of baseball translates kind of transcends the actual language,” Rockies veteran catcher Chris Iannetta followed up while speaking exclusively to Rox Pile. “You’re just exposed to so many of the same phrases that everyone knows them.”
Iannetta was part of the club in 2006 when both Sun-Woo Kim and Byung-Hyun Kim were on the team. In fact, there’s some even more notes today that had people thinking back to 2007 but Iannetta remembers something distinct about that club.
“Anyone regardless of where they were from has a personality,” the catcher told me. “Some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen or heard was when Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui would talk in 2007. They were attached at the hip and neither knew what the other was saying but they were constantly making fun of each other … I don’t know how. You just find a way and that adds to the chemistry. Those two lightened up the clubhouse.”
The Rockies had inquired about Oh during the offseason and he said it’s glad that it’s finally come together between the two sides. Oh bolsters an already solid right-handed side of relievers for the Rockies and might be the main addition before this deadline as the Colorado club dukes it out for a playoff spot with Arizona once more.