Kuo vows to push on despite being released by Mariners
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
March 21, 2012, 12:02 am TWN
The China Post--Taiwan-born Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher Hong-chih Kuo (郭泓志) was released by the Seattle Mariners on Monday, a decision that could jeopardize the injury-plagued left-hander's professional career in the United States.
Kuo was originally signed but the Mariners as a free agent last month. The team hoped Kuo could regain the form he showed in 2010 when he made the National League (NL) All-Star team while with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But Kuo struggled throughout and had a 17.55 ERA in 6.2 innings, allowing five home runs and a .417 batting average over his six appearances. The horrible performance left the Mariners without little choice but to make the decision.
"I think he just needs more time," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge in an article posted at the Mariners' official website Monday.
"You'd see times when he'd find it, but he just wasn't able to be consistent with it. And with where we are in camp and the decisions we have to make, he just wasn't going to be part of the puzzle initially," Wedge said.
Kuo was one of the NL's top relievers from 2008-10 with the Dodgers and earned an All-Star berth in 2010, when he posted a 1.20 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 60 innings.
But the Taiwan native faced a back problem and anxiety issues in the 2011 season, when he had a 9.00 ERA in 40 appearances. He was released by the Los Angeles team after the season.
Since Kuo was on the Mariners' 40-man roster before his release, if he clears waivers as expected, he could still get an invite back to the team on a minor-league contract, according to U.S. media report.
There was speculation, however, that the 30-year-old veteran reliever could choose to retire because of his history of injuries. Kuo has undergone five elbow surgeries during his 12-year professional career in the U.S., and reportedly expressed his wish to retire last May during his last season with the Dodgers.
Kuo Will not Retire: Agent
Asked to comment, Alan Chang (張嘉元), Kuo's agent in Taiwan, yesterday said Kuo still hopes to stay in the U.S., and was not considering retirement for the time being.
"I have talked to Kuo and he told me that he just wanted to regain his former dominance on the mound, and he will stay in America looking for chances," Chang said.
According to MLB rules, Kuo will become a free agent if Mariners would not sign him back in the following two days, Chang said. The agent believed Kuo is still good enough to survive in the highly competitive league, disclosing that there are many others teams showing interest in the Taiwanese lefty.