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Friday, February 28, 2014

Pitching in Korea an eye-opening experience for Tigers’ Duane Below

Below the 38th Parallel I imagine.

Several thousand miles and an extremely long day spent in airports and airplanes separates Gwangju, Korea, from Duane Below’s hometown of Britton, Mich.

Last August, a season after last pitching for the Tigers and a handful of months after two forgettable appearances with the Marlins, Below signed with the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization.

Now he has brought the perspective of his two months playing overseas back to the Tigers’ camp in Florida, where he is a non-roster invitee just trying to break camp with the big league team.

“I wanted to be open minded,” Below said of the experience on Friday. “I didn’t want to be closed off. I tried to take as much in as possible.

“The language barrier was tough for me. Being at the field, the other foreigner was from the Dominican Republic, but he spoke very good English. So I was able to talk to him and my translator. You can communicate with your teammates here, but it helped open up my eyes how difficult it is coming from a different country, for the guys coming from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or even Japan and Korea.

“So it was something that I’ll always have and I’ll always remember.”

...Below took some on-field lessons from his time in Korea, too. He described the level of play as about the same as a good Triple-A team and saw a few players at the MLB-caliber there.

Opposing hitters like to make a pitcher work hard for everything, and the strike zone is a little smaller. And if those hitters make their way on base, they’re going to remind the battery they’re there.

“They hustle, non-stop,” Below said. “It was good to see, good to learn. I feel like that will help me here in America. It was an experience that I’ll always have.”

Repoz Posted: February 28, 2014 at 07:03 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tigers

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