Oxspring joins new KBO franchise
2 January 2015
Australian Baseball Alumni member and former Major League player Chris Oxspring recently signed with KT Wiz, the newest franchise in the Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO) for the 2015 season.
Chris will become the leader of their rotation, with his leadership and durability bound to ensure the Wiz have one of the better import pitchers on their roster for the upcoming season.
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Chris Oxspring played the previous two seasons with the Lotte Giants (KBO) and was their best performed pitcher with the lowest earned run average and the most innings thrown for the Giants over those two seasons.
During his time there Chris has immersed himself in South Korean culture and is respected by fans and teammates alike for his enthusiasm in learning and adapting to that culture.
“It's so much fun being in South Korea,” he said. “The people are great, I enjoy the food and the lifestyle there. It takes a little adjusting to get used to, but once you get it, you discover a whole new side of Korea that you didn't know you would enjoy.”
One of the downsides for Chris, though, is that his family does not stay with him for the entire season. “Now that two of my kids are in school, they only travel during the school holidays. So at least I get to see them at three different times throughout the season,” he said.
Last season the Lotte Giants held a special first pitch ceremony where Chris’ family was given the honour of throwing that first pitch (see link below). While his new expansion team has been equally welcoming, there are some adjustments that will need to be made.
“I don't think drastic is the word that I would use for any challenges, but there will be plenty of obstacles that will need to be overcome throughout the season. Being a new team, there will be teething problems that we will face I'm sure,” he said.
Chris has moved from one of the larger franchises in the KBO to the newest one, but he still doesn’t expect things to change too much. He will need to move from the seaside city of Busan to the larger city of Seoul but expects to make the move quite comfortably.
“The pace of the two cities is different, kind of like comparing the Gold Coast to Sydney or Melbourne,” he said. “Very different in how fast the people are going, and the patience that people display. Both are wonderful cities.”
In action for Sydney Blue Sox (Image: Australian Baseball League)
Chris has continually worked on his game to stay ahead of the hitters and he has developed an outstanding knuckleball. The development of his knuckleball has really bemused everyone in the KBO and the movement that pitch gets is amazing. The major problem, though, is trying to catch the pitch - which could dart in three different directions after release (see below for a reaction from one of the top KBO hitters after Chris threw that pitch last season).
The Wiz have accordingly drafted Chris’ catcher from the Giants for the past two years so that he will be able to continue to throw it.
“It's something that has become part of my pitching repertoire, but it is also very difficult on the catchers.......in saying that, KT was proactive in drafting my catcher from Lotte of the past two seasons, so hopefully we can continue to work that into my games,” he said.
The KBO had a massive offensive explosion during the 2014 season and most pitchers’ earned run averages rose by a minimum of 1.00 and over half of the hitters in the league had a batting average well over .300. The KBO tried to get more offence into their games and - by whatever changes they made - this certainly worked and it made it much more difficult for pitchers.
Nevertheless, his adaptability enabled Chris to stay within the top ten pitchers last season. The adjustments that he made and will continue to make will help ensure that the vastly experienced Chris Oxspring stays ahead of the pack and continues to be one of the better pitchers in the KBO for 2015 and beyond.
And it ensures that he will be one of the leaders with his new club.
“I expect to take on something of a leadership role with the franchise,” he said. “Not just because I’m joining an expansion team, but because it is part of my demeanour. It’s just who I am. I feel comfortable helping and talking with young players, to help them grow and develop as baseballers.”
Australian Baseball Alumni thanks Chris Oxspring for his assistance with this story. We wish him all the very best for the 2015 season.
Chris will feature in our video interview later this year, so please check back to hear about his baseball journey, including his time in the Major Leagues, the Nippon Professional Baseball League and the Korea Baseball Organisation.
CHRIS OXSPRING FIRST PITCH KBO (video)
CHRIS OXSPRING KNUCKLEBALL (video)