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Cardinals’ Kim is back in St. Louis, might be permitted to return to South Korea to see family

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    St. Louis, MO (St. Louis Post Dispatch) — Kwang Hyun Kim, the South Korean lefthander signed to a two-year deal by the Cardinals in the offseason, has left the Cardinals’ training site in Jupiter, Fla., and is in St. Louis at the club’s request.

And president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, in a Zoom teleconference with reporters Thursday, said Kim may even be allowed to return to South Korea to see his wife and two small children in Incheon.

“I can only imagine the mental challenge he’s under with his wife and children back in South Korea and trying to adapt to a new country and a new team and then have all this thrust upon him,” said Mozeliak, referring to the coronavirus pandemic where cases have dropped sharply in South Korea in the last two weeks.

“There wasn’t a whole lot going on in Jupiter at this time so we figured it might make the most sense for him just to get settled and go to the place where he most likely would call home for a while,” said Mozeliak.

“I have been in discussions with him in terms of possibly returning to South Korea because it has opened up again and he could visit his family. But we have not determined if that will happen or not because there is the risk that the borders could be shut down and travel could be limited. We’re just trying to navigate this as best we can.

“But, clearly, this has not been easy for him. I think all of us could understand why.”

For now, Mozeliak said that if Kim needed to play catch or work out, he could do so with veteran righthander Adam Wainwright, who is back here now.

“But what I advised to everybody this week was just to let this week come and go and we’ll cross next week as it comes,” Mozeliak said.

Kim, who could either start or relieve for the Cardinals, was among their most impressive players in camp, allowing five hits and no runs in eight innings over four games while striking out 11. Opponents hit just .172 against him.

Florida camp ‘basically closed’
Mozeliak said there was very little activity in Jupiter now.

“We are basically closed,” he said. “We do have a couple of players that are in the Jupiter area that are coming in … for their medical rehab treatment.

“It’s not business as usual. It’s very quiet.”

The minor leaguers long ago had been sent out of Jupiter, although Mozeliak said that 17 Venezuelan minor leaguers who were not permitted to return to their country have relocated to the Dominican Republic, “which we thought was going to be a short-term solution,” Mozeliak said.

“Unfortunately, they are still in the D.R. But the good news is that at our academy we can give them their own private rooms. They’re medically checked each day and given meals and they have the ability to walk around and get fresh air.

“The one scary part for them is a lot of them would like to find a way to get home. Right now, there is a very limited number of flights going from the D.R. to Venezeuela. We want to make sure these guys don’t feel like they’re in some form of a penalty box but at least they’re able to eat, they have a healthy environment and, right now, a safe environment.”

When will season start?
Among other items Mozeliak touched on was when the season might start. It already has been shut down deep into May.

“We just don’t know,” he said. “Right now, we’re in an age of what information we should listen to or value and why complicate things?.

“The No. 1 importance you always have to remember is public safety and fan safety.”

The day before, the Cardinals’ two-game series with the Chicago Cubs set for London on June 13-14 was canceled. Asked if it could be played there next year, Mozleiak said, “I really don’t know what the future holds for that. Now, it’s thinking about where we would play those games should we be playing in June.”

The two games were Cardinals home games and, in theory, could be played at Busch Stadium in June, but it seems unlikely the season would be up and running by then.

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