Left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez (26), who joined Hanwha as a substitute foreign player in April, entered Korea with his family. His wife and 19-month-old daughter were on the plane to South Korea. Usually, foreign players who come to Korea for the first time come in alone, but Sanchez, accompanied by his family, was different from the start. 안전놀이터
Sanchez, who introduced himself at a meeting with the team, saying, “I didn’t come simply to gain experience,” said, “I have no intention of going back after only one year in Korea. I want to play baseball in Korea for as long as I can for the next 2-3 years.”
His major league career was all three games (5⅓ innings) at the St. Louis Cardinals during the Corona 19 shortened season in 2020. For Sanchez, who struggled in the minor leagues without seeing the light of day in the United States, Korea was a land of opportunity. Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho also said, “Since he is young, he must have his own ambitions. Take a picture here and there may be the next plan. I think it will be okay in that respect,” he said, hoping for motivation from Sanchez, who has an extraordinary will to succeed.
Even at the time of recruitment, Hanhwa was devalued as a ‘tinker’ player who hastily recruited to fill the vacancy of Birch Smith, who was released after 60 pitches in the opening game, but Sanchez, who opened the lid, was an ace pitcher. On the 10th, against Daejeon LG, he made his best pitching since his debut in the KBO League with 8 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts and no runs. In the 8th inning, the 112th fastball, which led to the last batter Kim Min-seong striking out on a swing, was taken up to 151 km. He led Hanwha to a 7-0 victory by overpowering the LG lineup, which boasts the best firepower in the league.
In the six games Sanchez has started so far, Hanwha has won all. 100% win rate. Sanchez, who won his third individual win, also lowered his ERA to 1.39. In 32⅓ innings, he struck out 28 while allowing just six walks. His detailed record is also good with a WHIP of 0.84 and a batting average of 108.3. He throws a fastball with a maximum speed of 153 km and an average speed of 148 km with his unique fast pitching tempo. He uses a command that continuously attacks left-handed hitter opponents, a backdoor slider against right-handed hitters, and a breaking ball that steals timing with a curve.
After the game, Sanchez said, “For the first time in my career, I threw over 110 pitches. I didn’t think of throwing in the 9th inning because it could be bad for the team if I over-paced my emotions,” he said. “I didn’t know how many pitches there were until the 7th inning. The idea was to throw as long as possible. As the foul continued to fall against the last batter in the 8th inning, I looked back at the screen and checked the number of pitches.”
“It feels really good,” Sanchez said of the team’s six-game win on his starting day. This is why Hanwha brought me here. Every time I throw, I want to have a positive impact on the team.”
He continued, “I think today is the best pitch of my career. It’s the first time I’ve thrown more than 110 pitches, and I’ve never pitched 8 scoreless innings. Korea seems to give me a lot of presents,” he said with a laugh. “My wife, who came with her 19-month-old daughter, is also satisfied with her life in Korea. Her wife is also happy that I am helping the team.”
Every day Sanchez pitches, his wife brings her daughter to the ballpark to cheer him on. So far, all 6 games have been played at the home of Daejeon, but after the game, I meet my family in a good mood with a win every time. ‘Daddy’ Sanchez, who personally drags a stroller to work, makes Hanwha smile broadly with ‘milk powder buff’.