Player in hot seat inserted into starting lineup vs. Japan

TOKYO,-- Kang Baek-ho, South Korean designated hitter (DH) under fire for a costly baserunning miscue in a recent loss, will start a crucial game against Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Friday.

Kang will bat seventh as DH against Yu Darvish at Tokyo Dome in the second Pool B game for South Korea.

Managed by Lee Kang-chul, South Korea suffered an 8-7 loss to Australia on Thursday. With his team trailing 5-4 in the seventh, Kang hit a one-out double but was tagged out at second base when his right foot came off the bag in an ill-timed celebration.

Kang has become the lightning rod of criticism for the national team, but Lee explained at his pregame press conference that Kang has been swinging the bat well of late and deserved to start the key game.

South Korea must prevail Friday just to have a fighting chance of reaching the quarterfinals as one of the top two seeds out of Pool B.

The top of the lineup did not change from Thursday. Second baseman Tommy Edman will lead off, followed by shortstop Kim Ha-seong. Center fielder Lee Jung-hoo, first baseman Park Byung-ho and left fielder Kim Hyun-soo will bat in the heart of the order.

Park Kun-woo will play in the right field and bat sixth, followed by Kang, catcher Yang Eui-ji and third baseman Choi Jeong.

Left hander Kim Kwang-hyun will start.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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