Sports

Padres willing to be patient with S. Korean reliever Go: pitching coach

SEOUL, As Go Woo-suk tries to find his footing in his first major league spring training with the San Diego Padres, the team is willing to be patient with the South Korean pitcher, pitching coach Ruben Niebla said Tuesday. "I think we've got to be p...


SEOUL, As Go Woo-suk tries to find his footing in his first major league spring training with the San Diego Padres, the team is willing to be patient with the South Korean pitcher, pitching coach Ruben Niebla said Tuesday.

“I think we’ve got to be patient for him to get accustomed and used to it and then make a decision based off that,” Niebla told Yonhap News Agency during the Padres’ workout at Gocheok Sky Dome Tuesday. The Padres will play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Gocheok on Wednesday to open the 2024 Major League Baseball (MLB) season — the very first MLB game in South Korea.

“You know, be patient with him because we like him a lot,” Niebla continued. “And he’s under contract, so let him get his pace and get his feet under him to be able to move forward.”

Go was the top closer in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) for the LG Twins from 2019 to 2023, collecting a league-high 139 saves. He signed a two-year deal with the Padres in January after being posted. And after helping the Twins win the Kor
ean Series in November, Go had a short offseason to rest and recover from a long campaign.

The challenge of having such a short offseason is not lost on the Padres, Niebla said.

“He had a short preparation to go to the United States, shorter than everybody else,” Niebla said. “He also had a lot of traveling. He went back and forth to the United States when he signed and then he went back for physical and all that stuff. So his offseason was not the same as everybody else.”

Then there’s the matter of adjusting to the different ball. The KBO ball has higher seams than the MLB ball and is also smaller and tackier.

“Obviously, we knew that him coming in, there was going to be an adjustment. The biggest one being obviously the balls, the time, just the transition into the American hitters,” Niebla said. “And he’s done a great job handling that. Every outing, it seems to be getting a little bit better and better and better, feeling more comfortable. So he’s heading in the right direction.”

Go’s spring training
numbers perhaps shouldn’t warrant such optimism from the coaching staff. Through 4 1/3 innings pitched in Arizona, Go had a 12.46 ERA, with six earned runs allowed on eight hits, including a home run.

Then on Sunday, Go went up against his former team, the Twins, in an exhibition game in Seoul, and served up a two-run home run to Lee Jae-won before picking up the save in a 5-4 win.

Niebla, though, wanted to look on the brighter side from that outing. Go touched 94.9 miles per hour with his four-seam fastball and consistently sat in the 94 range.

“That was the highest velocity we’ve seen out of him,” the coach said. “So that’s a good indication that he’s now getting more and more comfortable with his mechanics.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency