SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) — When Carlos Subero first received an offer last fall to manage the Hanwha Eagles in South Korean baseball, he knew exactly whom to call first.
Subero eventually signed a three-year deal with the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club in November, becoming only the fourth foreign manager in league history. During the hiring process, Subero said he relied on one of his three predecessors, Trey Hillman, for advice.
Hillman managed the SK Wyverns in 2017 and 2018, and won the Korean Series in his second season. He remains the only foreign skipper to win a championship here. Clearly, he was more than qualified to speak to Subero about life in the KBO.
“I talked to Trey Hillman about certain things and how they’re done here,” Subero said during his introductory press conference on Tuesday, adding that Hillman had once been his field coordinator in the minors.
“He’s somebody I respect a lot. He helped me throughout the process,” Subero went on. “I would say Trey was my go-to guy.”
Subero, a former coach with the Milwaukee Brewers with an extensive minor league managing experience, said Hillman had “nothing but positive things” to say about the KBO and South Korea.
“He said, ‘Don’t pass up on that opportunity if you do get it,'” Subero said. “And I could see why he said so. To sum it up, he said you’re going to love it. So far, it’s been like that.”
Subero also said he didn’t want to hear too much from Hillman “because then you can have an impression that puts you in a perspective that might not be right.”
So what are some things the two talked about?
“A bat flip,” Subero said of hitters’ tossing of the bat after a home run or a hit. It’s mostly frowned upon in the United States as a sign of disrespect toward an opponent. Not only is it a part of the game in the KBO, bat flips are celebrated around these parts.
“(Hillman said) it’s not disrespect. It’s something that they do,” Subero added.
The Venezuelan manager said he will keep his mind open about learning the Korean culture and also said he’d be willing to follow in the footsteps of Matt Williams, the American manager for another KBO club, the Kia Tigers, and reach out to rival managers over the course of the season.
Last year, as the first-year skipper, Williams presented each opposing manager with a bottle of wine in a specially designed case bearing that manager’s name. Williams’ counterparts reciprocated with gifts of their own. Williams said he wanted to thank fellow KBO managers for welcoming him to the new country with open arms.
“That’s something I’ll definitely talk with the front office about,” Subero said. “Anything that we can do to follow up with that tradition, and anything we can do to build relationships, we’ll definitely do that.”