“I don’t know if I can play for seven years, but I’m thinking more than seven years if my body holds up and the team needs it.”
Doosan Bears ace Raul Alcantara (32) has expressed his intention to challenge Dustin Nippert, the longest-serving foreign pitcher in the KBO League history. Alcantara re-signed with Doosan this year after a successful KBO comeback season last year. He received 700,000 dollars in 2020, when he first joined hands with Doosan, and 900,000 dollars last year when he returned from Japan, but he re-signed for 1.5 million dollars in total this year. 1.5 million dollars is the highest price for a foreign player in the KBO League this year. Alcantara, LG Twins pitcher Casey Kelly, kt Wiz pitcher William Cuevas and SSG Landers outfielder Guillermo Eredia also recorded a total of 1.5 million dollars.
“I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to return to Doosan again. I want to be with Doosan for as long as possible,” Alcantara told reporters at Blacktown Baseball Stadium in Sydney on Tuesday.
Nippert holds the record for the longest-tenured foreign player in the KBO league. Nippert played for eight years from 2011 to 2018. He played for Doosan for seven years from 2011 to 2017, remaining the longest-tenured foreign player in the club’s history, and moved to the kt Wiz in 2018 and played one more season to win the title of the longest-tenured foreign player in the league. With many foreign players leaving less than a year behind, successful signing of a contract for eight consecutive years is an incredible achievement. Nippert took off his uniform after recording 214 games, 102 wins (51 losses), 1291 ⅓ innings, 1,082 strikeouts, and a 3.59 ERA.
When asked if he wanted to break Nippert’s seven-year record at Doosan, Alcantara said, “I’m not sure if I can play for seven years, but I’m thinking more than that if my body holds up and the team needs me.”
Alcantara had a strong image of “a fast pitcher with only a ball” when he first came to Korea after signing a contract with KT in 2019. He threw a fastball over 150km, but there was not enough breaking ball to add to the power of the fastball. Even the breaking ball was not effective because the speed of the ball was fast. KT gave up renewing its contract with Alcantara, who recorded 11 wins and 11 losses, 172 ⅔ innings and an ERA of 4.01 that year.
Doosan paid attention to Alcantara’s innings. A breaking ball is a matter that a team can refine as much as it wants, but it had to be born with stamina, which can be called an inning starter. Doosan recruited Alcantara as it judged that he had enough ability to lead the inning as a starting pitcher, and after recruiting, he helped Alcantara emerge as the league’s top ace by helping him install folk balls. Alcantara made a huge hit in 2020 by recording 31 games, 20 wins and two losses, 198 ⅔ innings, 182 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.54, and he continued to win by signing a two-year contract with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese professional baseball league ahead of the 2021 season.
Alcantara’s attempt at Japan, however, ended in failure. Unlike in Korea, Alcantara’s ball was not very powerful for Japanese batters. He was demoted to the bullpen and had to endure the humiliation of playing in the second division. Doosan offered 900,000 dollars to Alcantara and sought to rejoin the team. The ace, who won 20 games in 2020, was in the past and negotiated based on failures in Japan. Alcantara came back to Korea by accepting 900,000 dollars as a motivation.
Alcantara had a successful comeback season last year. He contributed to the team’s advance to the semifinals by posting 31 games, 13 wins, nine losses, 192 innings, 162 strikeouts and a 2.67 ERA. All indicators were among the top ranks, ranking first in innings, third in strikeouts, fourth in multiple wins, and fifth in ERA. It was natural for Doosan to renew its contract and asked for 1.5 million U.S. dollars to lead the league’s best starters this year. Doosan ranked first in the league with a 3.64 ERA as starters last year.
Alcantara said, “First of all, I think last year’s season was very good. There wasn’t a lot of innings in the two years (in Japan) before last year. So I was most worried about whether I could throw a lot of innings last year, but I’m very satisfied because what I was worried about went well.”
We will do our best to lead the starting lineup that ranks first in the league this year as well. Competition for the remaining two spots has intensified as Choi Seung-yong, who was a likely left-hander, has been rehabilitated due to a broken left elbow. Choi Won-joon, Lee Young-ha, Kim Dong-ju, Kim Min-kyu, Park Shin-ji, Kim Yu-sung and Choi Joon-ho have been listed as candidates for selection.
Alcantara said, “Our starting lineup is very powerful. Young players gained experience last year and will likely improve this year. Kwak expects to stay longer in the team and play in more games than last year.”
Alcantara, who topped the inning last year, has been slowly upping his pace this year. Pitchers who built up early are throwing more than 50 pitches each during their second bullpen session during spring camp, and Alcantara has never thrown a bullpen session.
Alcantara said, “I thought it was too early to throw a bullpen session. I gave my schedule to my coach, and I decided to follow the plan, so I’m proceeding with it. In Australia, I aim to raise my body to 60-70% and then move on to Japan and fill up to 100% before entering Korea.” 꽁머니환전
“It’s a lie to say that I didn’t have a hard time last year. That’s why I emphasize the mental part. Even if I’m physically struggling, if I keep my mind on it, I think I can have a healthy season this year just as I did last year without skipping the rotation,” he added.
This year, the second son Roman (7) and the third son Viktor (5) will visit the stadium every day their father takes the mound to cheer for them. The two sons are currently studying in the U.S. while attending a baseball class. They are dreaming of becoming baseball players while watching their father’s game every day.