Scottsdale, AZ – With the bridge between the bullpen at large and Rockies’ closer Wade Davis in question after Adam Ottavino’s signing with the New York Yankees, several candidates have emerged as favorites to hold down the eighth inning.
Reliever Seunghwan Oh, acquired in late July for first baseman Chad Spanberger, outfielder Forrest Wall and reliever Bryan Baker, posted a WAR (Baseball Reference) of 2.3 or higher and an earned run average of 2.63 or lower for a second time in three seasons.
Alongside Scott Oberg, whose career year in 2018 saw the 28-year-old best Oh across the board in most categories, veterans and bounceback candidates Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, the 36-year-old righty from South Korea is one of the favorites to claim the vacated role of eighth-inning setup man.
With the help of interpreter Eugene Koo, Oh sat down with BSN Denver in an exclusive interview to discuss his responsibility to the media from his home country of South Korea and clarify offseason comments about possibly not returning to Colorado in 2019.
On day three of camp for pitchers and catchers, a large contingency of reporters requested time with Oh, who took time to meet the group at a table in an open area outside of the Rockies clubhouse.
“It’s kind of a fortunate-unfortunate situation for them because they have to come a long way from Korea,” Oh communicated. “There’s only so many times they can make the trip. So, I just try to give them what they want or whatever answers they’re looking for.”
While speaking with reporters in October who greeted him at the airport upon his arrival back home, Oh told the media in attendance, “I am a bit exhausted after spending five seasons in Japan and the United States.”
Oh would add, “It’s not easy living in a foreign country… Everything away from the stadium is an extension of competition,” reported Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency.
Standing in front of his locker inside the Rockies clubhouse, sweat still glazed upon his forehead after a solid workout in the Scottsdale sun, it was quite clear those comments were literally lost in translation.
“I wasn’t expecting it to become like a talking (point),” Oh disclosed. “To be honest, it was just something I was mentioning to some (Korean press) that got more interesting later on.”
Though the broader goal of the Final Boss earning the role of setup man for the Rockies’ final boss will be handled further down the road this spring, the early days in Arizona for Oh will simply be about training properly for the 2019 season, regardless if it is his last in MLB.
As Oh puts it, “More than anything, I want to have a full, healthy season and contribute to the team.”