INCHEON, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- When Kim Kwang-hyun left the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2021 season, he probably didn't imagine he would play with his trusted second baseman, Tommy Edman, again -- and on the South Korean national team, no less.
That improbable reunion will happen in March at the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Kim, 34, will be one of the leaders on the young pitching staff, while Edman, born to a Korean mother and an American father in the United States, has been picked to represent South Korea under WBC's loose eligibility rules.
Edman will be the first player with a foreign passport to play for South Korea at an international baseball competition.
Kim, back with his original club SSG Landers after a two-year stint with the Cardinals, left for the Landers' spring training site in Vero Beach, Florida, Wednesday morning. It is just north of the Cardinals camp in Jupiter.
"We're about an hour drive away, and I should have a chance to meet Edman there," Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the WBC would have been held in 2021, and I was still with St. Louis then. I remember talking to Tommy in passing, 'It'd be nice if we play together at the WBC.'"
Edman won the National League (NL) Gold Glove at second base in 2021, and was a finalist for that position and also for the newly created utility position in 2022. The switch hitter has swiped 62 bags over the past two years, more than anyone in the NL in that span.
Kim said he was looking forward to having such a great defender behind him at the WBC.
"He makes pitchers feel really comfortable," Kim said. "He can get the job done at any position on the field and he's a great hitter as well."
Edman is one of a few current and former Cardinals to take part in the WBC. Adam Wainwright, a veteran starter who took Kim under his wing, will pitch for the United States, and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the reigning NL MVP, has also committed to playing for America. Yadier Molina, a Hall of Fame-bound catcher who retired after last season, will manage his native Puerto Rico.
Should Kim go up against his old friends, though, it will be all business.
"I've received the call of the nation. It's a challenge to get my body ready earlier than a typical season, but I should be able to handle that," said Kim, who has logged 57 2/3 innings in 16 games for the national team, more than any other pitcher. "I will try to be the best version of myself on the mound."