Birch Smith (33), the new foreign pitcher of Hanwha, may find Korea, where acupuncture has developed, a place of destiny. For Smith, who has been an ‘oriental acupuncture mania’ ever since he was in the United States, there seems to be no other country like this.
Smith, who was recruited by Hanwha with the maximum amount of 1 million dollars for new foreign players, is highly anticipated as the first starter. He is steadily picking up the pace with an average ERA of 0.71, 12⅔ innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, and 1 run in 4 actual games from spring camp to demonstration games.
Against SSG in Daejeon on the 20th, Smith had a no-hitter in 4⅓ innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, and no runs in the 4th inning. Smith’s fastball, thrown with the release point as far forward as possible, was measured at a maximum of 154 km and an average of 150 km. The tip of his ball moves alive enough to create the illusion of floating in front of the batter.
The source of Smith’s fastball is his thick thighs that look like they’ll burst at a glance, and his solid lower body strength. Here, he adds the heaviness of the ball with his own firm exercise method and lifestyle. “I come to the gym every day, do some stretching and strengthening exercises, and plan what exercises to do next,” says Smith. He mainly runs,” he said. “Drink a lot of water and get enough sleep. He goes to an oriental clinic and pays attention to maintaining his health while getting acupuncture.”
Oriental acupuncture treatment is not a new start after coming to Korea. Smith said, “Since I was in the US, I like getting acupuncture and have been doing it consistently. After getting acupuncture, I feel that my body recovers quickly. It has been almost 10 years since 2015. “It is not common to get acupuncture in the United States, but some players do it. I followed them for the first time, and the effect was good, so I’m still doing it. When I come to Korea, I go to an oriental clinic near the (Daejeon) baseball field.”
There is one more hidden charm of Smith. A photo of a press release distributed by the club after signing a contract with Hanwha in December of last year shows Smith holding a ballpoint pen in his left hand and signing his signature. In reality, Smith only throws the ball with his right hand, but in his real life, he is left-handed.
LG base coach Lee Jong-beom, a “baseball genius,” who ranked third among hitters in the 40-man legends selected by the KBO in commemoration of the 40th anniversary last year, is also left-handed, but he played right-handed baseball. In the days when left-handed gloves were rare, he had to hit right-handed, but Smith said, “I used to do all sports with my right hand. I don’t know why,” he smiled as if he knew.
Smith, who has such a unique charm, has a special relationship with the people around him. He had a relationship with Hanwha coach Carlos Subero during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers in the major leagues in 2019. At the time, manager Subero was the Milwaukee first base coach and infield defensive coach. “From then on, I had a good relationship with Subero. The existence of coach Subero also played a big role in my decision to come to Hanwha. He is knowledgeable and passionate about baseball. He recalled that he was a really good coach when he saw how he communicated with young players by asking questions without forcing them.”
Hanwha’s new foreign hitter, Brian O’Grady,먹튀검증 became teammate for the second year in a row following last year’s Nippon Professional Baseball Seibu Lions. It is not uncommon to be on the same team two years in a row in another overseas league. Smith said, “It is meaningful that the relationship with O’Grady has continued to Korea. I think he will have a lot of fun playing baseball together this season.”