Not even for a day…I never thought Korea was the end” The KBO re-export myth has already become a dream come true

Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona Diamondbacks), the ‘reverse export legend’ who achieved the greatest success among foreign players in the KBO League, always thought about the American Major League even when he was in Korea. For Kelly, who never gave up on her dream even for a single day, it became a reality. 

Kelly held an official press conference ahead of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS, best of 7) against the Philadelphia Phillies held at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on the 22nd (Korean time). . He attended Game 6 of the NLCS held on the 24th as a starting pitcher for Arizona. 

At every official postseason press conference, Kelly is constantly asked questions about his time in Korea, and today was no different. The story of Kelly, who has been active as a starter for five years after making his major league debut by signing with Arizona in 2019, based on his performance with the SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) in the KBO League for four years from 2015 to 2018, seems to be quite interesting even in the American media. 

“When he was in Korea, did he ever think or dream of being a starter like this here? When asked, “Or was it too far away to even think about it?” Kelly responded, “I thought about it and dreamed about it every day. When he went to Korea, his goal was to return to the United States someday. When I was in Korea, there was no thought in my mind that this was the end. “I accepted that it was my job for the time being, but I didn’t think my career would end like this.” 

Kelly continued, “I had a longing to sit here and talk to you all, it was a part of my daily life. When you wake up in the morning in Korea, the game has started in the United States. I would check out what my colleagues and friends who played in the same minor league were doing. “I also paid attention to teams that I thought I could contribute to when I returned to the U.S.,” she said, adding, “There wasn’t a single day while I was in Korea that I didn’t think about this place.” 

Kelly, who was only in the minor league in the United States and moved to Korea at the young age of 27, played in the KBO league for four years with 119 games (729⅔ innings), 48 wins, 32 losses, an ERA of 3.86, and 642 strikeouts. Kelly, who said goodbye to Korea by leading SK to victory in the Korean Series in 2018, returned to the United States by signing a 2+2 year major league contract with Arizona worth up to $14.5 million. 

“Honestly, I didn’t know Arizona would recruit me,” Kelly said. In Korea, it was a 10-month contract, so he wasn’t a free agent until November. December 1st was the wedding day, and I received a call from Arizona in the morning. Until then, there was no contact from Arizona. There were two teams in my head: the San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox. “But Arizona offered better terms, and I had no choice but to make a decision at that moment,” he said, recalling the contract process. 

San Diego and Boston also made offers to Kelly, but Arizona’s terms were much better. Kelly said, “I thought I would receive a one-year contract, but Arizona offered me a multi-year contract. “He should have accepted the offer,” he said. Kelly, who has shown consistency as a key starter for three years, signed an extension with Arizona ahead of last year’s season with a 2+1 year guarantee of $18 million, and is active with a total of 127 games (750⅔ innings), 48 wins, 43 losses, and an ERA of 3.80 with 681 strikeouts over a five-year period. . 

He had a career-high season this season with 30 games (177⅔ innings), 12 wins, 8 losses, an ERA of 3.29, and 187 strikeouts. This is his first time playing major league fall baseball, and he won Game 1 of the division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 8th, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, and no runs in 6⅓ innings. Then, in Game 2 of the NLCS against Philadelphia on the 18th, he lost the game with 3 hits (3 home runs), 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and 4 runs in 5⅔ innings. 스포츠토토

With Arizona losing Game 5 1-6 to Philadelphia on this day and pushing the series record to the brink of 2 wins and 3 losses, Kelly will start Game 6 on the 24th. It’s a burden because it’s an away game held at the hot Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, but if Kelly collapses, Arizona’s season will be over. Attention is focused on whether Kelly, who never thought about the end of his time in Korea, will be able to save Arizona from the brink. 

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