Hyun-jin Ryu took a red-eye from Korea to Los Angeles earlier this morning, and he didn’t do it without swarms of media watching his every move:
The 25-year-old southpaw left for Los Angeles yesterday, launching a Major League career with the Dodgers after signing a six-year, $35 million contract, the richest ever for a player from Korea. Ryu has said that he won’t return unless he surpasses former Hanwha Eagles teammate Park Chan-ho, the winningest Asian pitcher in Major League Baseball.
“When I went to the U.S. to sign the contract, it was to get results,” Ryu told a press conference yesterday at Incheon International Airport. Ryu reached the deal in Los Angeles on Dec. 9 after a month of negotiations.
“But now I am in a position to produce the result, so that makes me nervous,” he said. “What matters now is how quickly I can take the pressure off my chest. If I try to adjust, doing as I usually do in Korea, it will be fine, I guess.”
He went on to state that he’d “will work into shape gradually as I did in Korea” — insert joke here — and that he’ll report to camp on February 13.
Most importantly, however, via Dan of the invaluable MyKBO, is that Ryu’s nickname in Korea was “the Monster”, as you can see in the sweatshirt he was wearing at the press conference below. What are the odds on fans hearing that and then deciding to call him Godzilla, blissfully unaware of the vaguely-racist repercussions that assuming all Asians are from the same country bring? 110%? 120%? Higher?
At this point, I just can’t wait to see the man pitch. Considering that the Korean media had Ryu’s flight number tracked, I’m beginning to fully understand just how big of a deal he is over there.