It’s official. Dutch right-handed pitcher Rick van den Hurk is joining the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO) for the 2013 season. He is the first player from the Netherlands to play in Korea. Based in Daegu in the south of the country, the Lions are the reigning champion also the current Asia Series winner – a tournament for the best club teams in Asia.
Talking to Honkbalsite.com Van den Hurk revealed that he needed a change of scenery after six seasons of back and forth between the Majors and the Minors. Overall he has spent ten seasons in professional baseball in the United States, playing for the Florida Marlins, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.
During the Winter Meetings in Nashville at the beginning of December the Pirates laid the groundwork to sell the 27-year-old Van den Hurk to an Asian club. Teams from Japan and Korea were interested in his services. In the end the Lions made the best offer and Pittsburgh granted him his release to make the transfer possible.
Van den Hurk will get the chance to be the starting pitcher in Korea. He will travel to Spring Training next week, preparing for the 2013 season. While no longer in Major League Baseball he still will try to promote baseball among the youth in Europe, continuing with his European Big League Tour.