Last-place NC Dinos sack manager Lee Dong-wook

SEOUL-- The NC Dinos, the worst team in South Korean baseball this year, fired their manager Lee Dong-wook on Wednesday.

The Dinos announced they have terminated their contract with Lee, making the 47-year-old the first managerial casualty in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) this year. Lee had been signed through 2024.

Only two years after winning their first-ever Korean Series championship, the Dinos are mired in last place in the 10-team league, with a 9-24 record. They have suffered through a five-game losing streak and a six-game skid already this year.

The Dinos made hefty investments in free agency during the offseason, spending a combined 16.4 billion won (US$12.9 million) on veteran outfielders Park Kun-woo and Son Ah-seop. Their signings have not yet paid dividends, with the Dinos being among the most anemic offenses in the KBO.

The Dinos have also had to deal with some off-field misconduct by their players and coaches. Last summer, four regulars were suspended by the league for violating COVID-19 social distancing regulations during a road trip to Seoul. Then last week, coach Han Kyu-sik was taken into police custody on charges of assaulting fellow coach, Yong Duk-han.

Reached on the phone after the team's announcement, Lee said he is only taking fond memories with him.

"Someone has to take the responsibility (for the team's struggles and recent problems)," Lee said. "I am fine. Every beginning has an end."

The Dinos said they will give Lee an advisory role within the organization. He has been with the expansion franchise since its foundation in 2012, working up the coaching ladder before becoming the manager in October 2018.

Bench coach Kang In-kwon will serve as interim manager while the Dinos search for a full-time replacement.

Source: Yonhap News Agency