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S. Korea heads to Tokyo for inaugural regional baseball tourney

2017/11/14 08:53

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SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean national baseball team headed to Tokyo on Tuesday for an inaugural regional tournament this week.

Manager Sun Dong-yol and his 25-man squad will compete at the Asia Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), which will run from Thursday to Sunday.

The event features professional players from South Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei under 24 years of age -- born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 -- or those with less than three years of professional experience.

South Korea will open the tournament at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Japan. It will then face Chinese Taipei at 7 p.m. the following day. After Japan plays Chinese Taipei on Saturday, the top two nations from the round robin action will square off in the final at 6 p.m. on Sunday. All games will be at Tokyo Dome.

Members of the South Korean national baseball team pose for pictures at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2017, before departing for Tokyo for the Asia Professional Baseball Championship. (Yonhap) Members of the South Korean national baseball team pose for pictures at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2017, before departing for Tokyo for the Asia Professional Baseball Championship. (Yonhap)

Sun will be leading a team of young Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) professionals with virtually no international experience. This will also be Sun's first competition as the first full-time national baseball team skipper.

"I was up almost all night, and this is the first tournament for a lot of these guys and myself (as manager)," Sun told reporters at Gimpo International Airport. "After our practice yesterday, I told the players to play with confidence and not let nerves affect them."

   The countries were each allowed to select up to three players over the age limit as "wild cards," but Sun elected not to use that option, unlike the other two nations.

He previously said he was taking the long view and wanted to develop the current crop of youngsters for future competitions like the 2018 Asian Games, 2019 Premier 12 and 2020 Summer Olympics.

Sun's team includes two KBO Rookie of the Year winners: this year's winner, Nexen Heroes outfielder Lee Jung-hoo, and Samsung Lions outfielder Koo Ja-wook, who won in 2015. Hard-hitting shortstop Kim Ha-sung, another Nexen player and runner-up to Koo in the 2015 top rookie voting, is one of few right-handed power bats.

On the mound, Lotte Giants right-hander Park Se-woong, who is fourth among South Korean pitchers with a 3.68 ERA, and left-hander Ham Deok-ju, who excelled both as a starter and a reliever for the Doosan Bears, will lead the way.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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