Go to contents

Rios: “I Will Never Forget the Love of Kia Fans”

Posted July. 23, 2005 03:11,   


“I will never forget the love that Kia fans have given me. Some fans even visited my apartment to bid me farewell. My neighbors gave presents to my wife and me, and felt sorry for us leaving.”

Doosan Bears’ pitcher Daniel Rios (33) was cool when we met him at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on July 21. Only two weeks ago, he was playing for the Kia Tigers. For three years since he first set foot in Kia in 2002, he has been a star in the team, earning the nickname “Jeolla Province’s good import, Lee Oh-soo.”

He had a record of 14 wins, five losses, and 13 saves (ERA 3.14) in 2002, 10 wins and 13 losses (ERA 3.82) in 2003, and was tied for the most wins with 17 wins and eight losses (ERA 2.87) in 2004. This year, however, he fell into a slump with six wins and nine losses (ERA 5.09), and was recently traded to Doosan.

“Baseball is the same anywhere. I fully understand the Kia team. I do not wish to say anything negative about Kia. I will do my best wherever I go. I am happy that I won in the match against Hanwha on July 19, the first game that I faced since my trade.”

His pitching workload has been heavy, pitching 188 and two-third innings in 2003, and 222 and two-thirds innings (the most in the league) last year. Also, Korean hitters have become used to his balls by now. However, he thinks that is not a problem. No matter how many balls he pitches, it will be fine if he gets a good rest during the winter, he believes. Also, he says he is used to Korean hitters now as much as they are to him.

“There are two types of batters; those who hit well, and those who have power. Thus the balls pitched should differ accordingly. This season is not over yet. Since I have been constantly doing weight training, my efforts will have an effect by the end of the season when my strength reaches a limit.”

Rios has almost become a Korean by now. He can read Korean fairly well and can even speak certain words in the Jeolla Province dialect, such as “meo-yeoh” and “ing.” He loves bamboo rice from Damyang and hates live octopus. He has visited all corners of the country including Mount Jiri, Mount Mudeung and Geoje Island. He states that if you want to know Korea you should visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) first, and explains that when he visited the place he was touched by the difficulties Koreans have suffered. He gives a string of advice to Kia players, including catcher Kim Sang-hoon, who had worked with him for three and half years, the graceful Lee Jong-bum, and Kim Jin-woo, who has the potential to make it big in the future. His motto is, “Today is the last day, and this game is the last game.”

These days, Rios is totally into watching his 22-month-old daughter play.

Hwa-Sung Kim mars@donga.com