Oh reportedly to pitch for Korea in WBC '17

Oh reportedly to pitch for Korea in WBC '17

ST. LOUIS -- Initially left off Korea's World Baseball Classic roster because of a gambling controversy, Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh will now participate in the international tournament after Team Korea reconsidered his status.

His addition to the roster was first reported by Yonhap News Agency late Tuesday.

"Seung Hwan Oh is a player we absolutely need, so we decided to put him on the national team," manager In-Sik Kim told the news agency. "We understand Oh has faced criticism, but he's very determined to play hard for the country at the WBC."

Oh's gambling infraction occurred before he signed with the Cardinals, but still carried with it a 72-game suspension if he returned to pitch in the Korea Baseball Organization. It appeared as if the misstep would cost him the opportunity to represent Korea in the WBC, but opinions changed after other members of the Korean pitching staff were sidelined by injury.

Oh becomes the fifth member of the Cardinals' 25-man roster to be added to a WBC 2017 roster. Others who had previously committed include: Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico), Carlos Martinez (Dominican Republic), Matt Carpenter (USA) and Alex Reyes (Dominican Republic).

Seung Hwan Oh shuts the door

Korea will host Pool A at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul beginning on March 6, when it plays Israel in the tournament's opening game. The Netherlands and Chinese Taipei round out the pool. The Championship Round of the World Baseball Classic is scheduled for March 20-22, so, depending upon how far Korea advances, Oh could miss most of the Grapefruit League season.

Oh enters 2017 positioned as the Cardinals' closer, a role he took over midseason after Trevor Rosenthal's sustained struggles. Oh went on to save 19 games. His 103 strikeouts over 79 2/3 innings rank second all time by a Cardinals rookie reliever, and his ERA (1.92) was the lowest in MLB history by a South Korean-born pitcher who threw a minimum of 70 innings.

Oh, who signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals on this date one year ago, is a veteran of World Baseball Classic play. He pitched for Korea in the three previous tournaments and helped the team reach the championship in 2009. In nine WBC appearances, Oh has posted a 2.70 ERA.

WBC 2017 rosters are due Feb. 6, which means there is still time for additional members of the Cardinals' organization to be selected.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.