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Korean reliever Seung-Hwan Oh still awaiting work visa as start of Cardinals camp looms

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Korean reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, nicknamed “The Final Boss” in Asia, agreed to a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals back on January 11. In the weeks since, Oh and his representatives have been trying to secure a work visa for the 33-year-old right-hander that will allow him to report on time to Cardinals spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But it hasn’t come together yet …

Those tweets come from Daniel Kim, a former MLB scout who now covers both Major League Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization. Kim notes humorously that the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, is a huge Reds fan. Conspiracy!

Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly was told by a Cardinals official on Tuesday that the team is anticipating Oh arriving on time later this month at Roger Dean Stadium. But if the visa issue isn’t resolved soon, Oh could very well be a week or two late. That wouldn’t be a problem for most relievers, who take very little spring work to get properly tuned up for the regular season, but Oh spent the last 11 years pitching in either Korea or Japan. He would probably like to get familiar with MLB hitters and the MLB scene in general.

Oh saved 357 games in Asia while posting a 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts in 646 innings. He is expected to work as a setup man to Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.