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Kia to release Jeremy Hazelbaker

May 11,2019
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Jeremy Hazelbaker
The Kia Tigers are the first team to part ways with a foreign player this season.

The Tigers announced Friday that they have asked the KBO for permission to release foreign outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker.

Hazelbaker hasn’t exactly been playing in Gwangju for long. Upon completion of the 2018 season, the Tigers parted ways with Roger Bernadina, replacing him with Hazelbaker on a one-year contract at $700,000.

Despite the high expectations, Hazelbaker had a disappointing start in his debut season in the KBO. In 11 games he had a .146 batting average with five RBIs and two home runs.

Before joining the KBO, Hazelbaker played in the major league for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017. Throughout 155 major league games, Hazelbaker had a .258 batting average with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs. In his minor league career, which he started in 2009, he had a .260 batting average with 99 home runs and 431 in 915 games.

The Tigers are now in talks with outfielder Preston Tucker. Tucker is scheduled to arrive in Korea on Monday for a medical check and the Tigers expect to sign him after the checkup.

Tucker was drafted by the Houston Astros in the seventh round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he made his big league debut for the Astros.

In 243 major league games, Tucker had a .222 batting average with 23 home runs and 68 RBIs. Looking at his minor league career, Tucker had a .281 batting average with 101 home runs and 415 RBIs in 577 games.

Midseason replacements of foreign players are common in the KBO as players struggle to live up to high expectations. According to KBO tracker MyKBO.net, there have been 52 midseason replacements in the KBO since 2010.

BY KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]