Japan pros plan to join SK training

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Japan pros plan to join SK training

Yakult Swallows closer Lim Chang-yong and relief pitcher Lee Hye-chun have volunteered to join the SK Wyverns winter training camp, regarded as one of the toughest in the KBO. The two pitchers will look to learn a few tricks from SK Wyverns manager Kim Sung-geun.

The two players will join the Wyverns’ camp starting today on Okinawa. The SK players departed for Tokyo on Jan. 8 and will head to Okinawa today after a medical checkup.

Lim and Lee are not the first players in professional leagues overseas to reach out to Kim for help in the offseason. Yomiuri’s Lee Seung-yeop and Major League pitchers Park Chan-ho and Kim Byung-hyun have all joined Kim winters past.

Kim is widely regarded as the best tactician in the KBO and led his team to a runner-up finish last season after two consecutive Korean Series wins in 2007 and 2008.

“We will work out five days a week till the end of the month. Training with the Wyverns will improve our physical conditioning, and we can also receive pointers from Kim,” said Lim.

The benefits won’t all be one-sided, as Kim said, “SK pitchers with side arm deliveries can learn a lot from Lim.”

When Lim joined the Haitai Tigers in 1995, he was assigned to the team’s minor league club, which was managed by Kim at the time. Lim trained to increase his weight from 65 kilograms (143 pounds) to 80 kilograms and improve the velocity on his top pitch to 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour).

“The training I received under Kim in my rookie year was the toughest of my career. As a result, I was in the best shape of my life,” reflected Lim.

Lim and Lee’s contracts are up with Yakult at the end of the upcoming season. At five wins, four losses and 28 saves on 2.05 ERA, Lim was one of the most feared closers in the NPB last season. He received a raise and will earn $1.6 million next season.


By Kim Seek [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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