MILWAUKEE — In previous years, Eric Thames might already be making plans for the long trip to South Korea, where he has starred the past three seasons for the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization. But Thames will stay closer to home in 2017, having signed a three-year contract with the Brewers to play first base.
He took some time to speak to MLB.com about his journey back to Major League Baseball and to share some memories of Christmases past.
MLB.com: For many, the holidays are a time to reflect on the year that was. What have you been thinking about?
Eric Thames: I’m still in shock. I’m realizing how crazy life is, how a few months ago I had no idea where I was going to be. Japan? Korea? I didn’t really think I would be back in the States, let alone with the Brewers on a big league deal. So it makes me appreciate life. You can’t control what’s going to happen; all you can do is your best, and life is going to do what it wants to do. I’m thankful for the opportunity.
MLB.com: What will you miss about playing in Asia?
Thames: I’m going to miss the people; the friends that I made, my teammates, the coaches. I’ll miss the routine a little bit. But life comes at you, and you have to move on. I enjoyed my time there and I don’t regret anything. And of course, if I ever want to go back there, I can just hop on a flight and go see my friends.
MLB.com: Did you ever do Christmas in South Korea?
Thames: No, but there is something called Chuseok, which is kind of like their version of Thanksgiving. You pay respects to your elders, to your grandparents and great-grandparents who passed on. I have one of the outfits you wear — it’s called a hanbok — that has red silk pants, a long-sleeved white silk shirt and a red vest. Traditionally, everyone would wear them the whole day, but now I guess kids are too cool to wear them as much. But of course, me [and KBO teammates] Zach Stewart and …