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New manager for expansion baseball club makes personality a priority

2016/10/18 17:59

SUWON, South Korea, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- New manager of South Korean baseball club KT Wiz Kim Jin-wook said Tuesday he will make the players' personality a priority.

Kim was officially introduced as the Wiz's new manager at the club's home ground, KT Wiz Park, in Suwon, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul. The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club on Friday signed Kim, former Doosan Bears' manager, to a three-year deal worth 1.2 billion won (US$1.06 million), a figure that includes a signing bonus.

Kim succeeds Cho Bum-hyun, who managed the Wiz in their first two seasons in 2015 and 2016. They finished in last place in both seasons in the 10-club league.

"I feel a heavy weight of responsibility as the Wiz's second manager in the club's history," he said. "But I accepted the job because I want to play baseball that can move people's heart with personality, tenacity and nurture of the players."

   Before wearing the Wiz uniform, Kim managed the Doosan Bears and led the Seoul-based club to the runner-up finish in 2013. The 56-year-old was fired after the Bears blew a 3-1 series lead against the Samsung Lions and had been working as a cable TV commentator.

"While I was working as a baseball commentator, I wanted the Wiz to become a better team," he said. "I admit the team's competitiveness is not strong yet. But they have the potential to grow further."

   The Wiz have been suffering from a series of off-field incidents in recent years.

Last fall, catcher Jang Sung-woo and pitcher Chang Si-hwan both got into trouble over their mobile messenger chats with their girlfriends. Jang was fined in court and the club suspended him for 50 games for defaming a popular cheerleader, his former teammate and other baseball officials.

This year, infielder Kim Sang-hyun was booked for engaging in lewd behavior in public, outfielder Oh Jeong-bok was booked without physical detention for drunk driving.

The new manager said he will not condone such immoral and unlawful behaviors.

"I'm not going to blame what's happening on the ground," Kim said. "But what's certain is that a player who lacks moral character can't be on this team while I'm in charge. If such incidents happens, I will take the responsibility and will punish myself."

   The Wiz finished the 2016 season with 53 wins, 89 losses and two draws. Kim said he is looking to add 20 more wins next season from this year's record.

"If the Wiz don't change right now, I feel that the team might enter a period of slump for long time," he said.

Kim, who had also coached high school teams, said he wants to foster players who can represent the franchise. The manager said he has high expectation for pitcher Shim Jae-in and outfielder Kim Sa-youn next season.

Kim added he will closely work with the club management to make a better team.

"Our club president promised a big investment," he said. "As for foreign pitchers, I've already requested the management find a player who can throw at least 180 innings for a season."

Newly appointed KT Wiz manager Kim Jin-wook speaks during a press conference at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Oct. 18, 2016. (Yonhap) Newly appointed KT Wiz manager Kim Jin-wook speaks during a press conference at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Oct. 18, 2016. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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