“I feel so good.”
Kiwoom Heroes substitute foreign pitcher Ian McKinney started a home game against SSG Landers in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome Esery on April 1. He pitched six innings of three-hit ball with two walks and five strikeouts. His quality start (six innings pitched with three earned runs or less) helped Kiwoom to a 6-3 victory and earned him his first win in the KBO 먹튀검증.
After the game, McKinney was congratulated by his teammates. The pitching staff came onto the field with water bottles and waited for McKinney to finish his interview. Once McKinney left the interview area, the pitchers splashed him with water and congratulated him on his first win.
He was drenched, but he felt great. “I feel really good,” McKinney said. It felt really good to get the win today,” McKinney said. “We made a lot of good plays on defense, and I had good chemistry with my catcher, Kim Dong-heon. It was a team effort today,” he said, giving credit to his teammates.
McKinney, who was in trouble in the fourth inning but closed out the fifth and sixth with a triple play, said, “It was bad that I tried to get two strikes and be more precise with my pitches. I was so focused on my pitches that I didn’t listen to them. Even after I got two strikes, I think I should have tried to win the game like I did in the early count,” he reflected.
He also adjusted to the KBO’s official ball. “It’s different from what I’m used to in the States,” McKinney said. In the U.S., we usually pitch with mud on the ball. In Korea, they throw a brand new ball. It has a stickier feel. We’re using rosin every inning, and it’s paying off.”
At the time of his signing, Kiwoom described McKinney’s main pitch as a curveball. But in South Korea, McKinney has been using his changeup as his primary pitch. “I don’t feel like my curve is working as well. The changeup works better for me. If I utilize the difference in velocity between my fastball and my changeup, I think I can feel stronger,” he said, expressing confidence in his changeup.
On Korean hitters, he said, “They seem to be a lot of contact type hitters. They foul a lot and try to make as many in-play hits as possible.” He added, “American hitters have big swings, so they have a high percentage of false swings and are able to get strikes. In the KBO, I think I need to actively attack the strike zone. I think I need to make some adjustments,” he said, vowing to do better.
The Korean food has also been a perfect fit. “The ramen is really good,” McKinney said. Pork belly and bulgogi are also good, but I’ve had them in the States. It’s localized, so it’s a little different from Korea,” he laughs.
It’s not uncommon for former major leaguers to struggle in the KBO. It’s not all about past history. McKinney has spent his entire career in the minor leagues, most recently in the independent leagues. That might seem like a bit of a disadvantage, but McKinney is determined to overcome preconceived notions.
“The independent leagues I’ve played in are top-tier,” he says. A lot of the players were former major leaguers or Triple-A players. It was a more competitive league than I thought it would be. I want to break the (negative) perception of me,” he said, vowing to succeed in the KBO 안전놀이터순위.