“KBO Honorable Foreigner” Past Yankees Prospects Eventually Goes to Japan…”I wanted to play in Japan for a long time”

Mike Ford, an “honorary foreign player” known to have been watching by many KBO league teams, will eventually head to Asia. His destination is Japan, not Korea. He signed a contract with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. His jersey number is 99, and his estimated annual salary is 500,000 dollars.

DeNA held a press conference on Friday to announce Ford’s joining the team. After saying hello in Japanese, Ford said, “I’m Mike Ford. I’m from Florida.”

“I think I’m lucky to be in this team. I’m happy. I’ve always thought about playing in Japan, but I couldn’t get a chance. I haven’t had a chance so far, but this time, I got that chance. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Ford said, “I’m looking forward to interacting with fans. Fan service is something that was considered important in the U.S. as well. I’m ready to play anytime. I want to help my team win the trophy.”

Ford’s decision may have been influenced by the presence of Tyler Austin, a teammate of the Yankees when he was playing in the DeNA Minor League. Ford said, “I had the chance to meet Tyler Austin (TA) every offseason. I’ve often heard that pitchers pitch a little differently between the U.S. and Japan. I’ve heard advice on timing and pitching style from a long time ago.”

Ford, 31, has played in 251 games in six seasons in the Major League so far this year. He recorded a batting average of 0.259 and an OPS of 0.909 in 50 games in 2019, his debut season, and so far this is Ford’s career high season. This year, he only hit 0.150 in 17 games for the Cincinnati Reds, eventually opting to go to Japan during the season. 고수익알바

DeNA, like Korean pro baseball clubs, has been watching Ford over the years. A club official said, “I’ve been watching the game, not just this once. I was looking at the timing to recruit him, but the time has hardly come. I didn’t hesitate to sign the contract because I had a good opportunity this time.”

There is a competition for the position with Austin, who advised Ford on Japanese baseball. Austin has moved from right field to first baseman. As the Central League does not have a designated hitter system, Austin and Ford could compete for a position at first baseman. The club said, “I already recognize it. I have joined the team to increase the number of players. It is up to the field to decide how to use the team.”

Meanwhile, Austin joined the Japanese pro baseball league in 2020 and is now in the fifth year this year. After the end of the 2021 season, he signed a three-plus-one-year contract extension, paving the way for a long-term foreign player. However, he underwent elbow surgery once in the 2022 season and once again after the end of the season, and played in only 60 games over the past two years. This year, he is batting .300 with double-digit homers (10) and batting average even in the midst of extreme pitching and hitting conditions.

DeNA had Austin’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning to secure a 6-5 playoff victory. Austin finished the game with a solo home run at the first pitch with the score tied at 5-5. It was his 10th home run of this season and his first walk-off home run since entering Japan.

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