KBO fans and stars come out for Media Day

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KBO fans and stars come out for Media Day

Kia Tigers manager Cho Beom-hyun is confident about winning back-to-back titles, Hanwha Eagles pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin is one of the most feared by his peers and Lotte Giants first baseman Lee Dae-ho isn’t too concerned with his lack of speed around the bases.

With the season opener fast approaching, the Korea Baseball Organization held its annual Media Day at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel in southern Seoul yesterday afternoon.

Cho sounded confident about his team’s chances of winning their second consecutive Korean Series title.

“I see the Tigers as a team still on the rise,” the manager said. “SK, Doosan, Samsung and Lotte all have the depth to challenge. But Kia will win.”

Kim Sung-geun, manager of last year’s runner-up SK Wyverns, said his team will give the Tigers a run for their money.

“We have a lot of injuries so we might not be as competitive during the season, but by the end of the year, we’ll be on top,” said Kim. “Kim Kwang-hyun and Park Kyung-wan are returning from injuries, so our expectations are high.”

While Kia, SK, Doosan, Lotte, Samsung and LG are all in position to vie for one of the four playoff spots, the Nexen Heroes and Hanwha Eagles are in rebuilding mode. The Heroes, which played the entire 2009 season without a sponsor, traded away several players for cash during the offseason, and the Eagles, which finished the season last in league standings, lost free agents Kim Tae-kyun and Lee Bum-ho to Nippon Professional Baseball teams.

“We can only improve from here. It obviously will be tough for us to reach the postseason but we will have to play with a lot of determination,” said Hanwha manager Han Dae-hwa.

Despite the depleted lineup, Hanwha boasts the most feared pitcher in the KBO this season. Six of the eight batters yesterday voted Ryu as the pitcher who will most benefit from the widened strike zone.

One of the better questions of the day came from a young fan who asked the Giants’ Lee why he does not try to steal bases. “I can run the 100 meters in 15 to 16 seconds, but I’m still the slowest ball player,” Lee said. “As long as I hit home runs, I’ll be fine.”

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