Hanwha Eagles pitcher Ricardo Sanchez and NC Dinos’ Park Gun-woo created a heartwarming scene.
Sanchez was hit in the left forearm by a hard-hit ball from Park Gun-woo with two outs in the third inning of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against the NC Dinos at Changwon NC Park on March 23. The ball rolled past Sanchez and became an infield hit.
Sanchez shook off the hit as if it was no big deal, but the Hanwha training staff rushed to the mound just in case, as it was the left arm that throws the ball. And there was an NC player standing among the Hanwha trainers.
It was Park Gun-woo, who had just hit Sanchez. Park approached Sanchez with a worried look on his face and asked if he was okay. Luckily, Sanchez gestured that he was fine, and Park apologized to him. Sanchez responded to Park’s words by smiling and clapping his glove.
Sanchez threw 79 pitches before leaving the game due to arm discomfort, but he went the distance with five innings of four-hit ball, striking out three and walking two to lead his team to a 6-2 victory. Sanchez improved to 4-0 on the season. He remained unbeaten in his first away game. After the game, Hanwha head coach Choi Won-ho praised Sanchez, saying, “He pitched well for five innings despite the adverse conditions against him.”
Sanchez responded to Park’s gesture by saying, “I felt that Korea is a very polite league, and I was surprised. I’m grateful that Park Gun-woo made the (apology) gesture. 안전놀이터 I know no one wants to hit me, so it wasn’t intentional and it doesn’t bother me too much,” he smiled again.
“My arm is fine. There’s nothing to worry about. I can prepare for the next match normally. It was just a protective move because of the big score difference,” he said, smiling that the injury wasn’t too serious.
Foreign batters are sometimes surprised to see domestic pitchers apologize after being hit by a pitch, but in this case, Sanchez was apologizing to a batter who hit a hard pitch. At first, apologizing was considered taboo because it was seen as weakness, but as the culture of apologizing and playing professionally has been established, it has become a part of the KBO landscape that is different from overseas leagues. Sanchez was surprised when he first experienced the “sincerity” of the KBO.