OSAKA, Japan, South Korea held its first practice in Japan on Sunday ahead of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), four days before its crucial first game of the competition.
Saturday was a travel day for South Korea, managed by Lee Kang-chul. The team spent Thursday and Friday in Seoul, running its first full-squad workout and playing a scrimmage.
South Korea is scheduled to play two Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) clubs over the next two days in official WBC exhibitions: the Orix Buffaloes at noon Monday and the Hanshin Tigers at noon Tuesday, both at Kyocera Dome Osaka.
Then South Korea will be off to Tokyo for an official practice Wednesday at Tokyo Dome, and the first Pool B contest against Australia on Thursday at the same venue.
South Korea will later take on Japan, the Czech Republic and China.
At Maishima Buffaloes Stadium, west of Osaka city center, the South Korean players trained for 90 minutes on a warm and breezy afternoon, with the position players hitting in the cage and taking fungo, and pitchers playing catch and fielding groundballs in the outfield.
Third baseman Choi Jeong, who skipped Friday’s scrimmage in Seoul because of an unspecified illness, was a full participant in Sunday’s session.
The national team has been traveling for the better part of the past week or so. South Korea had a two-week camp in Tucson, Arizona, and about a third of the squad experienced disruption to their travel back home when their plane bound for Los Angeles for a connecting flight to South Korea got grounded in Tucson.
After a quick turnaround to a workout and then a scrimmage in Seoul, the national team flew two hours to reach Osaka on Saturday evening.
Manager Lee, who was in the group affected by flight disruption, thanked his players for handling unexpected adversity with aplomb.
“It has been a long and tiring journey to get here, and I was worried that the players would have some trouble with their preparation,” Lee said after Sunday’s practice. “But they have been staying on course and sticking to their routines.”
The top two teams after round-robin action will advance to the quarterfinals, which will also be played at Tokyo Dome for Pool B qualifiers.
The semifinals and the final will be at LoanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins.
South Korea is trying to redeem itself after crashing out of the first round at each of the past two WBCs in 2013 and 2017.
Source: Yonhap News Agency