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Taiwan apologizes to S. Korea after scouts sneak into practice match ahead of WBC
DOU LIOU CITY, Taiwan, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- One of South Korea's opponents at the upcoming World Baseball Classic (WBC) was forced to apologize on Tuesday after its scouts sneaked into a Korean practice game, in an apparent attempt to gather information on its regional rival ahead of the March 2-19 tournament.

   According to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the South Korean governing body of pro baseball, four Taiwanese advance scouts posed as umpire trainees to gain entrance to a practice game at Dou Liou Stadium between the South Korean national team and a South Korea pro club, the NC Dinos.

   South Korea and Taiwan have been paired in Pool B in the opening round of the WBC. They are scheduled to square off in Taichung, north of Dou Liou, on March 5. The Netherlands and Australia are two other countries in the group. The top two countries from the four squads will reach the second round, and South Korea and Taiwan are regarded as the two favorites.

   Once inside the umpires' room, the scouts began timing the delivery of the national team's pitchers, which drew the suspicions of KBO officials.

   "We had our suspicions because there seemed to be too many people in the umpires' room," one KBO official said. "They kept saying they were umpire trainees. But we later learned that they were really scouts and we ejected them from the stadium (in the fourth inning)."

   A KBO official said the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), the Taiwanese pro baseball governing body, apologized to the KBO via e-mail. The CPBL said the scouts had gone to the game "without obtaining approval" of the league and that there will be "proper punishment for their improper behavior," according to the KBO official.

   Taiwan had also tried to scout on South Korea last Wednesday during the first day of Korea's training camp, forcing South Korean manager Ryu Joong-il to ask the KBO to allow only authorized personnel into the stadium during his team's practices.

   After South Korea lost to the Dinos 1-0 Tuesday, Ryu said he wasn't bothered too much by the presence of the Taiwanese scouts.

   "In modern baseball, it's a battle of who gets the edge in collecting advance information, and there's nothing I can do about it," he said. "I don't really care too much."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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