Twins pitcher Enns stays locked in after rough patch

LG Twins starter Dietrich Enns pitches against the Lotte Giants during a Korea Baseball Organization regular-season game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, June 14. Yonhap

Over the first two months of his first season in Korea, left-handed pitcher Dietrich Enns went from winning his Opening Day start for the defending champions LG Twins to having his manager declaring that his job was in jeopardy.

Along the way, though, the 33-year-old American has been trying to block out distractions and focus on his own performance.

On May 28, Twins general manager Cha Myeong-seok traveled to the United States in search of a new foreign starting pitcher. Teams in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) can each have a maximum two foreign pitchers, and at that point, both Enns and his rotation mate Casey Kelly had been struggling, prompting Cha to start exploring a new option.

Through 11 starts, Enns was 4-2 with a 5.43 ERA, while Kelly, in his sixth KBO season, was 2-6 with a 5.60 ERA.

Skipper Youm Kyoung-youb told reporters on May 28 that the Twins were prepared to cut either of the two starters, but he also said the best-case scenario for the Twins was to have both pitchers bounce back, given the scarcity of quality alternatives that time of year.

Enns happened to start that same day, and he earned his fifth win of the season by holding the SSG Landers to two runs on four hits in six innings while striking out nine.

It would have been tempting to assume Enns became extra motivated after learning of Cha’s plans. However, Enns only found out about the situation during an interview after Cha’s trip.

“I don’t follow the media much. Just kind of pay attention to what I’m doing from a day-to-day basis,” Enns told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday, before the 토토 Twins hosted the Samsung Lions at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. “I had no idea but I kind of mind my own business and I’m just here to do my job as best I can. And whatever the team does, that’s up to the team to decide.”

Both Enns and Kelly have pitched better in June. On Wednesday, Enns kept the Lions off the board over six innings and allowed only three hits. It was his first scoreless start since March 29, and Enns improved to 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA for June.

That start came a night after a near-perfect game by Kelly, who only allowed a ninth-inning single to the Lions in a complete game shutout.

It was a tough act for Enns to follow, and Enns said he was inspired by his teammate’s brilliant start.

“I was cheering for him the whole way, hoping that he got the perfect game. The fact that he had to settle for a complete game shutout, it’s not too bad, either,” Enns said with a smile. “I was really happy for him to go out there and pitch that well. And it just gave me a lot of confidence to go out there and be in attack mode, pitch to my strengths and try and get similar results to him.”

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