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149 kilometers after 153 kilometers

KIA Tigers played a practice game against KT Wiz at Kin Stadium in Okinawa, Japan on Tuesday. The result was KIA's 1-0 victory in the Kangwoo Cold Game.

On the same day, KIA put forward Lee Eui-ri as its starting pitcher, and sent new foreign pitcher James Nail as its second pitcher.

Nail, who took the mound in the top of the third inning when the game was tied 0-0, caught the leadoff hitter Kim Sang-soo with a groundout to the shortstop, then struck out Kim Min-hyuk with a swing and strikeout, and handled Kang Baek-ho with a flyout to the third baseman, finishing the inning neatly with three outs.

The same happened in the top of the fourth inning when he encountered the KT center hitter. Nail lightly dealt with leadoff hitter Mel Rojas Jr. through a groundout to the shortstop, and garnered the second out by catching Park Byung-ho through a flyout to the shortstop. Then, Jang was struck out, and also ended the inning with three outs and no outs.

Nail took the mound in the top of the fifth inning as well, and had crises with two outs and runners on the first and second bases, but did not lose a point. Having caught the leadoff batter Hwang Jae-gyun as a groundout to the shortstop, Nail struck out Cheonseong-ho with a swing and strikeout, and managed to handle eight consecutive batters. This time, Nail did not have three outs. After Oh Yoon-seok had a hit to the right field, Nail allowed Kim Sang-soo a hit to the center field. Nail faced a scoring crisis in an instant, but left the mound without losing a point as she caught Kim Min-hyeok as a flyout to the center field.

During the three innings, Nail had only two hits, and pitched well with three strikeouts and no runs. She pitched 39 times. She threw 18 two-seam fastballs, 10 cutters, six sweepers and five changeups, respectively. The maximum speed of the two-seam fastballs was up to 149 kilometers, and the average speed of the two-seam fastballs also reached 148 kilometers, indicating that she is close to 100 percent of her physical condition.

Nail is known for her excellent ability to induce grounders on fastballs with speeds of up to 153 kilometers. KIA had to invest 950,000 U.S. dollars to get Nail. The detailed conditions are divided into $200,000 down payment, $350,000 in annual salary, $150,000 in incentives, and $250,000 in transfer fees.

Nail, who made his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022, pitched nine innings as a relief pitcher in all seven games, posted an ERA of 5.00 without losing or losing, and last year, he played 15 ⅓ as a relief pitcher in all 10 games, leaving an ERA of 8.80 without losing or losing.

He did not record much in the Major League but continued to play in the Minor League. Last year, Nail played in 31 games for Triple-A Memphis Redbirds under St. Louis, recording five wins, three losses and five saves with a 3.66 ERA.

Kia, which is considered one of the most promising contenders for the championship this year, will be able to regain the upper hand only when its foreign player, one-two punch, takes the center stage. Fortunately, the situation has been smooth so far.

The new foreign pitcher who joined Kia along with Nail is Will Crow. Kia had to invest a total of 1 million U.S. dollars, including 200,000 dollars in down payment, 600,000 dollars in annual salary and 200,000 dollars in incentives, to recruit Crow.

Crow also has a good start. At a practice game against the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese professional baseball league on April 27, Crow pitched well, allowing three hits, no outs, and one run in two innings. He pitched 29 times and posted a maximum speed of 153 kilometers. His maximum speed of fastball to two-seam is 149 kilometers. Crow is confident about his performance on the Korean stage, playing slider, curveball, change-up and sweeper in addition to his fastball lineup. At a practice game against the Lotte Giants on April 3, he posted his maximum speed of 150 kilometers, allowing five hits, one walk and no run in three innings.

"First of all, he had a very good personality. And he was very impressive when he got along well with the players. He also saw how they were trying to learn and how they had a firm routine about pitching. They were good players in the U.S., but they were still worried about adapting to the Korean baseball, but I think they will be able to adapt without any problems given their ball power and personality. They will trust them because they are good players," KIA manager Lee Bum-ho said in expressing expectations. Attention is focusing on whether KIA will be able to "emerge" amid the strong performance of foreign players' one-two punches this season.
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Monday, March 4, 2024
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