Overseas players prove crucial in winningTOKYO ― Korean players from foreign baseball teams proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the first round of the World Baseball Classic as Korea’s team topped other Asian countries.
Starting pitcher Seo Jae-weong of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kim Byung-hyun of the Colorado Rockies, Park Chan-ho of the San Diego Padres and Koo Dae-sung of the Hanwha Eagles (but formerly with the New York Mets) did not give up any runs in their first game against Taiwan.
In the game against Japan, Kim Sun-woo of the Colorado Rockies and Bong Jung-geun of the Cincinnati Reds minimized the scores against, while Park saved the game again as he did with Taiwan.
Korean players active in foreign countries also led among the scoring hitters. Lee Seung-yeop of the Yomiuri Giants hit three homers, two against China and one against Japan, in the Tokyo Dome, which is going to be his home ground starting this year.
In the home run rankings, Lee is ahead of Hitoshi Tamura, who hit two home runs, and tied with Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the number of runs batted in, at 7.
Baseball officials all complimented Lee’s competence as well as his attitude on the mound. Lee has two years in the Japanese league with the Chiba Lotte Marines and has an advantage compared to local players who only play in Korea.
Lee Jong-beom of the Kia Tigers, who played for the Junichi Dragons for three years, also was ahead of Nishioka with a batting average of 0.556 ― five hits in nine at bats in three innings.
Lee knew Japanese pitchers’ style very well, did not dodge a dead ball and led the come-from-behind win. Lee is placed second in on-base percentage (0.636) behind Tamura (0.643).
by Lee Tae-il
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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