(WBC) S. Korean team travels to Japan for WBC prep

INCHEON, The South Korean national team traveled to Japan on Saturday for the World Baseball Classic (WBC), embarking on a journey toward redemption after disappointments at previous events.


Managed by Lee Kang-chul, South Korea will play two exhibition games in Osaka next week before jumping into tournament action in Tokyo.

South Korea will face the Orix Buffaloes on Monday and the Hanshin Tigers on Tuesday, both at Kyocera Dome Osaka. Its first Pool B game is against Australia on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.


South Korea will then take on Japan on Friday, the Czech Republic on March 12 and China on March 13.


The two best teams after round robin play will advance to the quarterfinals, up against qualifiers from Pool A — made up of Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, Panama and the Netherlands. The two quarterfinal games for Pool A and B teams will be at Tokyo Dome.


The semifinals and the final will be at LoanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins.

South Korea finished third at the inaugural WBC in 2006 and was the runner-up to Japan at the 2009 edition. However, it crashed out of the first round in each of the next two tournaments, in 2013 and 2017.


Speaking to reporters before boarding his Osaka-bound flight Saturday, manager Lee said he’s going to embrace the pressure that comes with his job.


“It’s an honor to be in this position and I feel the weight of responsibility,” Lee said. “But I also see this as a great opportunity that not a lot of people would have. I will all try to bring home great results.”


The country’s 30-man squad features two major leaguers: Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres and Tommy Edman of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Edman was born in the United States to a Korean mother and an American father. He is the first foreign national to play for South Korea at an international baseball tournament, thanks to the WBC’s loose eligibility rules.


Kim and Edman only joined South Korea for their first workout on Thursday, unable to join the team for two-week camp in Arizona due to their club commitments. They were also ineligible for South Korea’s scrimmage in Seoul Friday, but will be able to play in the two exhibitions in Osaka.


Following Friday’s scrimmage, Lee hinted that Edman and Kim will hit at the top of the order, setting the table for some boppers to follow. Lee also said the rest of the lineup is mostly set, though he may change “one or two players, depending on the opposing starting pitcher in a given game.”


There are four ex-major league players in outfielder Kim Hyun-soo, infielder Park Byung-ho, and pitchers Kim Kwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong.


Outfielder Lee Jung-hoo, the reigning MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), will have his first international showcase since his club, Kiwoom Heroes, announced in January that they will post Lee for major league clubs after the 2023 season.


Source: Yonhap News Agency

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