“When I was in Korea, I didn’t think it was my final career. As I said before, my ultimate goal was to return (to the major leagues).”
Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona Diamondbacks), who is writing the KBO reverse export legend, always receives questions about life in Korea at her official press conferences.
Kelly played as a one-two punch with Kim Gwang-hyeon (35) at SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) for four seasons from 2015 to 2018.
Her four-season career record is 119 games, 48 wins, 32 losses, 729⅔ innings, 641 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.86. Kelly has been recognized for his career in Korea and has been playing in Arizona in the U.S.
Major League since 2019.
Five years after leaving Korea, Kelly still has a strong image as a ‘KBO graduate’ in the United States. 토토사이트
Kelly attended a press conference held ahead of Game 5 of the Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on the 22nd (Korean time) and asked, ‘Did you dream of starting in the big league postseason when you played in Korea, or was it something so far away that it was difficult to even imagine?’ I was asked a question.
“I dreamed of it every day,” Kelly said. “When I went to Korea, as I’ve said before, my ultimate goal was to come back to the U.S. one day.
When I was in Korea, there was no thought in my head that said, ‘This is it for you.’ “I only accepted it as my career until the near future (the moment of returning to the major leagues) approaches.
I did not accept that living in Korea was the end of my career,” he said emphatically.
He continued, “I had the ambition to sit here in the interview room and have a conversation with you (reporters). And dreaming like this was also my daily routine.
When I was in Korea, I would wake up early in the morning for a major league game. So, when I wake up in the morning, I check the game.
First, I check how the players and friends I know are doing in the big leagues.
Then, I think that one day, when I return to the United States, I can give myself a chance and contribute. “I paid attention to the teams that were playing.
There wasn’t a single day while I was in Korea that I thought I wouldn’t be able to play in the major leagues,” he added.
It is no exaggeration to say that living in Korea completely changed Kelly’s baseball life. Kelly had never played in the major leagues before taking on a new challenge in Korea.
Kelly attempted to lay the foundation for a career change by challenging the KBO League at the young age of 26, and this strategy was successful.
Arizona, who had been watching his performance during his time at SK with interest, gave Kelly a two-year contract worth $5.5 million and the opportunity to debut in the major league ahead of the 2019 season.
Kelly immediately took a spot in the starting rotation in Arizona and began writing the KBO export legend.
He started a total of 127 games over five seasons until this year and established himself as the second starter, recording 48 wins, 43 losses, 750⅔ innings, 681 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.80.
He marked the beginning of success by winning 12 games since the first year of his contract in 2019, and has consistently played a key role in Arizona’s starting lineup, winning 13 games last year and 12 games this year.
Arizona naturally consistently offered treatment commensurate with Kelly’s performance.
Kelly was guaranteed $33 million (about 44.6 billion won) over six years from 2019 to 2024.
He signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with Arizona ahead of the 2019 season, with club options for $4.25 million for 2021 and $5.25 million for 2022 both exercised.
Arizona even proposed a two-year contract extension ahead of the 2022 season. $18 million is guaranteed until 2024.
His signing bonus is $1 million, and his salary for 2023 and 2024 is $8 million. There is a $7 million club option for 2025, and if the club refuses to exercise the option, Kelly will receive $1 million as a buyout.
Arizona, the 6th seed in the National League this year, took the last fall baseball game and created a sensation by defeating the 92-win Milwaukee Brewers and the 100-win team LA Dodgers in order to advance to the championship series. They won 2 games in the wild card game against Milwaukee and 3 wins in the division series against the Dodgers, winning all 5 games.
Kelly was a key player on Arizona’s starting mound.
He started two postseason games this year, going 1 win, 1 loss, 12 innings, and an ERA of 3.00.
On the 8th, his postseason debut, he pitched 6⅓ scoreless innings in the first game of the wild card decision against the Dodgers, leading to an 11-2 victory.
However, they had a hard time against Philadelphia, their opponent in the championship series. On the 18th, he started in Game 2 of the Championship Series against Philadelphia and suffered a loss, allowing 4 runs in 5⅔ innings. Arizona lost 0-10.
Arizona lost the first and second games away to Philadelphia, losing momentum for a while, but won the third and fourth games at home to level the series at 2 wins and 2 losses.
And it was expected that the momentum would continue until Game 5 on the 22nd, but Philadelphia’s main batters Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and JT Realmuto hit home runs, and they lost 1-6. Arizona is now in danger of being eliminated if it only needs one more loss.
Kelly will carry Arizona’s World Series fate on his shoulders and start Game 6 at Philadelphia’s home stadium on the 24th.
Since he appeared once in Game 2, he appears to be able to adjust to some extent to the cheering atmosphere of Philadelphia home fans.
He needs to relieve the pressure of being eliminated after one loss and focus on throwing his own ball.
Kelly said, “When I go to a game, I only pitch with the intention of going to the World Series.
I don’t care if it’s in Philadelphia’s home stadium or on the moon. As long as I pitch well, I don’t think the location matters.
If I can lead the way to the World Series, I don’t care.
If I’m pitching well, that’s where my heart is going.
It doesn’t matter where I am,” he said, vowing to do his best to lead the team to victory without worrying about the away stadium.