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Pitcher Ryu confident of success in majors
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, about to enter contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Dodgers, said Thursday he is confident that he will be successful in Major League Baseball (MLB).

   "Obviously, there's pressure in all levels of baseball," Ryu said at a press conference here. "But from my experiences in Korea, I have no doubt I could succeed in the U.S."

   This was Ryu's first appearance in the U.S. since the Dodgers won the right to negotiate with him last weekend. The LA club put in a bid of about US$25.7 million in a major league-wide auction as part of the posting process.

   The two sides have 30 days to reach a deal. If they come to an agreement, Ryu's Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, the Hanwha Eagles, will take the bid money as a transfer fee of sorts. If Ryu can't reach a deal, he will stay with the Eagles and the Dodgers will get their money back. In that case, Ryu won't be eligible for posting until November next year.

   Ryu said he wants to get "as much value for myself" as he can.

   "I feel the Dodgers are a good ball club," he said. "I hope they treat me well."

   A successful deal will make Ryu, former MVP and the Rookie of the Year in South Korea, the first player to go directly from the KBO to the majors. That prospect didn't seem to intimidate him on Thursday.

   "Just because I am about to reach the majors, I don't think it will be necessary to develop new pitches," said Ryu, who throws fastball, slider and changeup. "American hitters are stronger (than Koreans), but with enough practice, I think I can handle them."

   Ryu added that he had always set out to post double-digit figures in wins in South Korea, and the goal in his first year with the Dodgers, should it happen, is to win at least 10 games.

   About 40 members of the Korean and the U.S. media attended the session, held at the office of Scott Boras, Ryu's agent. Known for his aggressive negotiating tactics that have often irked general managers but led to big paychecks for his clients, Boras also represents a slew of All-Star players.

  
South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (L) speaks to the media on Nov. 15, 2012, in Newport Beach, Calif., with his agent, Scott Boras (R) by his side. (AP=Yonhap)


Earlier this month, Boras appeared to be pressuring the Dodgers, saying Ryu would have commanded a higher bid had he pitched in the Japanese league, instead of the more obscure Korean league, and that he could choose to remain in South Korea and test the major league market as a free agent next year without being subject to posting.

   In an apparent response, the Dodgers' president Stan Kasten has said the team is in no hurry to sign Ryu and will likely do so after the end of the annual winter meetings on Dec. 6.

   On Thursday, Boras maintained that Ryu's posting fee "would be in accord with the dominant Japanese pitchers" had he pitched in Japan, citing examples of Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Darvish drew $51.7 million from the Texas Rangers last year, and the Boston Red Sox bid $51.1 million for Matsuzaka in 2006.

   The agent, though, declined to discuss his asking price. Darvish signed for $56 million over six years, and Matsuzaka got $52 million for six years.

   Boras paid tribute to efforts by the Dodgers' new ownership to get better.

   "They won the rights, and what they do with it is up to them," Boras said. "I don't think in any way they entered the process with any motive other than to get better. The current ownership has taken steps that illustrate an attempt to improve at every level -- draft, trade, free agent and, in this case, internationally."

   Three South Koreans have previously played for the Dodgers, including pitcher Park Chan-ho, who became the first Korean in the big leagues in 1994.

   Los Angeles is also home to a large Korean community. Ryu said he looks forward to feeding off support from the Koreans living in the area.

   In 2006, Ryu became the first player to win MVP and the Rookie of the Year awards in the same KBO season, going 18-6 with a 2.23 ERA and a rookie-record 204 strikeouts.

   Ryu averaged nearly 15 wins a season until this year, when he went 9-9 on the league's worst team. He still posted a 2.66 ERA plus a league-leading 210 strikeouts in 182 2/3 innings.

   The thick-bodied lefty, listed at 187 centimeters and 98 kilograms, has averaged more than 181 innings per season and led the league in strikeouts five times, mixing in his fastball with slider and changeup.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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