Cubs' reliever Lim Chang-yong expresses confidence vs. MLB bats
INCHEON, South Korea, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- The Chicago Cubs' reliever Lim Chang-yong said Monday he was never afraid of Major League Baseball (MLB) hitters in his first U.S. season, adding that his confidence will help him put up better numbers next year.
The 37-year-old right-hander returned home Monday following a short stint with the National League (NL) club in September.
Lim made six appearances after getting called up from the Triple-A Iowa early September. He allowed three earned runs in five innings on six hits and seven walks. He struck out five batters and didn't have a win-loss record.
Lim signed with the Cubs last December while still recovering from the second Tommy John elbow surgery of his career. He spent the first half of this year in rehab before returning to the mound in June with the Cub's Rookie League affiliate.
He quickly moved up the minor league ladder and reached Triple-A by late July.
The Chicago Cubs' reliever Lim Chang-yong greets his fans upon arriving at Incheon International Airport in South Korea on Oct. 7, 2013. (Yonhap)
Reflecting on his season, Lim told reporters at Incheon International Airport that he concentrated more on his recovery from the elbow operation than on statistics.
"Some things didn't quite go the way I hoped, but I am still satisfied with the season," he said. "Other than that they are strong, MLB hitters didn't have anything special. If I can get 100 percent healthy, I think I can really handle them."
Lim was one of three South Koreans in the NL this year, joined by pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers and outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Cincinnati Reds.
Lim pitched the previous 18 seasons in South Korea and Japan, the last five with the Tokyo-based Yakult Swallows in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He collected 128 saves, the most by a South Korean pitcher in Japan, with a 2.09 ERA.
In South Korea's Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Lim spent 13 seasons with two clubs and led the league in saves three times.
Despite the impressive resume, Lim had to start from the lowest rung of the minor league ladder and work his way up to the big leagues. He said Monday he will cherish his experience of pitching at different levels in the minors.
"I got frustrated at times that I couldn't move up faster," Lim said. "But I tried to stay patient, thinking I wasn't yet 100 percent."
Lim mostly pitched in mop-up duties for the lowly Cubs, who ended the season at 66-96, the worst record in the NL Central.
"I entered games mostly to test my elbow and to study major league hitters," Lim said. "Even though I didn't have such good numbers, it was still a satisfactory season."
Lim has been a closer for most of his career, but the Cubs had a veteran Kevin Gregg in that role in 2013. The 35-year-old American right-hander racked up 33 saves, sixth time in the past seven seasons that he had at least 20 saves.
Lim said he hopes to become the Cubs' new closer next season.
"I'd like to play a full season and see how I stack up over a year," Lim said. "If I can get 100 percent healthy, I'd like to be the team's new closer."