LG’s dirty laundry gets public airing

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LG’s dirty laundry gets public airing

The LG Twins are taking their gripes out of the locker room and putting them on the Web.

And it may be fans who end up the losers in the brewing battle of the egos. LG is sitting at the bottom of the rankings, and reports say team morale is in the basement, too.

Inside the young clubhouse, some players are taking sides against the manager and front office, and even those on the fence lack a strong veteran to set them straight on the ways of the game.

The conflagration started when manager Park Jong-hoon sent down team ace Bong Jung-keun and third-year pitcher Lee Hyung-jong for some time on the farm.

Where most players accept this kind of reprimand - especially when their game is not at its best - Bong and Lee weren’t going down without a fight.

On April 2, the pitcher left a comment on his personal Web page saying he would rather serve his mandatory military term than play for the Twins or its farm team, and criticizing the manager for telling him he wasn’t ready to play for the Korea Baseball Organization.

Two days later, Bong’s wife posted a message on her Web page that said team manager Park Jong-hoon had sworn at her husband and spoken to him in an unprofessional manager.

And on Monday, a former player jumped into the fray when Lee Sang-hoon, who threw for the Twins from 1993-97 and 2002-03, posted his own message criticizing the Twins’ front office and general manager.

Lee Sang-hoon wrote that general manager Lee Young-hwan asked him to join the Twins’ coaching staff in July of last year. Lee Sang-hoon, who also had stints with the Boston Red Sox and the Chunichi Dragons during his playing days, decided to accept the job - but then the team withdrew it.

The Bong and Park confrontation seems to have calmed down. “We had a long talk and cleared the air,” Park said before the start of Tuesday’s game against the Lotte Giants. “Players have emotions and have the right to speak their minds. I can understand that.”

But the flurry of charges have disrupted the team’s chemistry enough that the GM took to the Net himself.

Lee Young-hwan issued a public apology to the fans on the team’s Web site on Tuesday.

And they’ve divided Twins’ fans as much as the players, with some calling for Lee’s resignation and others criticizing the players.

Soured morale in LG clubhouse is nothing new. Last August, catcher Cho In-sung had a heated argument with pitcher Shim Soo-chang on the mound.

Just two days later, farm team pitcher Seo Seung-hwa hit teammate Lee Byung-kyu with a baseball bat while trying to discipline some of the younger players. Lee needed eight stitches to his head.

Observers say one reason for the lack of team chemistry is the strong individualism within the clubhouse.

“The team lacks a player who can take on the role of leader in the clubhouse.

“If a selfish player surfaces, it can lead to division within the clubhouse,” explained a former LG player.

The front office - and the manner in which it has dealt with past problems - is another reason, but the new coaching staff has also failed to earn the respect of its players.

“The current problem all stems from the fact that the LG players do not have much respect for their manager,” said one KBO manager.

“They think the manager is the one who should lose his job if they don’t produce in the win column.

“With the strong fan support, the players seem to think they have the power to sway the manager and the front office.”


By Huh Jin-woo, Ha Nam-jik [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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