After ‘easy decision’ to come to KBO, Lions hitter MacKinnon can’t wait for new season

David MacKinnon of the Samsung Lions takes a swing in a scrimmage against the Hanwha Eagles at Akama Ball Park in Onna, Japan, in this file photo provided by the Samsung Lions, Feb. 26. Yonhap

After his first season with the Saitama Seibu Lions was done in 2023, David MacKinnon figured he’d be back with the Japanese club for another year.One thing led to another, and MacKinnon ended up with another Lions team in Asia — the Samsung Lions in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).As tough as it was for the American first baseman to leave Japan, MacKinnon says it was “an easy decision” to sign with the KBO’s Lions.”Not too often does the team just start with the maximum amount,” MacKinnon told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, after returning from spring training in Japan. In December, MacKinnon signed for $1 million, the maximum amount for first-year foreign players in the KBO.”So I just felt like you go where you’re wanted in free agency,” MacKinnon added. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about Japan. I very much enjoyed my time in Japan, but I felt more wanted by Samsung, and it was an easy decision at that point. You go where you’re wanted, and you go where you feel like you’re going to have the best chance to excel. And I feel like that’s here.” It only takes a quick glance at MacKinnon’s social media feed to see how much he did enjoy his time in Japan. And the feeling was apparently mutual, with many Japanese fans expressing their disappointment in not seeing MacKinnon back with Seibu and wishing him the best in Korea in the new season.The business side of baseball got in the way of MacKinnon’s return to Japan, but the player said he was ready to move on.

“I think free agency is tough in general. You can’t knock Seibu for not wanting to bring me back, and they can’t knock me for leaving,” he said. “It’s just how free agency works, and I enjoyed my time there.I enjoyed my teammates, the coaches and the fans. Everything was awesome. I wish it ended differently, but there’s nothing bad to say about it. I thought I was going to go back, and I’m excited for the upcoming year here.” MacKinnon said he will try to build on the experience he’d had in Japan, as far as adjusting to new pitchers.”I’ve already faced a bunch of pitchers that I hadn’t seen before, and now I’m doing it again in Korea,” he said. “I’m going to have to try to figure out how they’re going to attack me and what pitches they like to throw.”MacKinnon noted how he’s been in different leagues in each of the past three years. He was in Double-A in 2021, and then split his time between the majors and Triple-A in 2022. After a season in Japan in 2023, he’s in yet another league in Korea for 2024.”Every year, it’s been me kind of having to figure out how the league’s going to pitch me and me having to make adjustments,” he said. “It’s going to be probably a month or so of adjusting and then I’ll hopefully adjust faster here than I did in Japan last year.”MacKinnon had 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 127 games for the Seibu Lions last year. Those numbers may not seem all that impressive, but MacKinnon still ranked second on the team and tied for 10th in the Pacific League in homers.It was a tough hitting environment, with a combination of strong pitchers 슬롯 and a ball that doesn’t travel far.

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