Monday, June 13, 2011

KARIM GARCIA HEADS BACK TO KOREA

Monterrey Sultanes outfielder Karim Garcia has gone to Korea for another tour of duty. The former big leaguer signed a one-year contract last week with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization for a reported $180,000.

The product of Sonora was an immediate fan favorite with the Lotte Giants of the KBO in 2008 by hitting .283, blasting 30 homers and driving in 111 runs while making the first of three All-Star Game appearances. However, his performance tailed off in 2010 as he hit .252 with 26 homers and 83 RBIs as his season reached its nadir in September when he was suspended seven games and fined $3,000 for arguing with an umpire during a game.

The incident more or less capped a year in which his father, former Mexican League star Pancho Garcia, died in January 2010, just before Karim got married a week later and took a quick honeymoon break from the Mexican Pacific League playoffs with eventual LMP champion Hermosillo. Last winter, Karim played sparingly for the Naranjeros, hitting .333 with 9 homers and 31 ribbies in just 22 games, but hit a disappointing .211 as Hermosillo got bounced in five opening round games.

The 35-year-old Garcia was a highly-touted Dodgers prospect in the mid-90’s before embarking on an MLB odyssey that saw him hit .241 with 66 homers for ten teams between 1995 and 2004. He also played in Japan before heading to Korea. In 53 games for Monterrey this season, Garcia was hitting .322 with 7 homers and 53 RBIs.