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Pirates rookie Bae Ji-hwan scores run in spring training debut

2018/03/27 08:06

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SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Pittsburgh Pirates' South Korean rookie Bae Ji-hwan has scored a run in his spring training debut.

The 18-year-old shortstop crossed the home plate for the Pirates' final run in their 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida, on Monday (local time).

Bae entered the game in the bottom of the seventh as the pinch runner for Jordy Mercer, who'd reached the base with a single. Bae moved to second when Ryan Lavarnway was hit by a pitch, and then came around to score on Mikell Granberry's single.

Bae got his first plate appearance leading off the bottom of the ninth but flied out to center field.

On the field, Bae started a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the eighth inning.

In this file photo from Dec. 18, 2017, South Korean baseball player Bae Ji-hwan poses for a picture after receiving the Lee Young-min Batting Award as the nation's top high school hitter at a ceremony in Seoul. (Yonhap) In this file photo from Dec. 18, 2017, South Korean baseball player Bae Ji-hwan poses for a picture after receiving the Lee Young-min Batting Award as the nation's top high school hitter at a ceremony in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The Pirates announced their signing of Bae to a minor league contract earlier Monday, days after some U.S. media reported on the deal.

Bae, a product of Kyeongbuk High School in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, had actually reached a deal with the Atlanta Braves last September, but Major League Baseball (MLB) voided the contract two months later, as part of its sanctions on the Braves for a series of other international signing violations.

Bae became a free agent, and because he'd signed his first professional contract outside Korea, he was ruled ineligible to play in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) for two years.

But in came the Pirates to rescue the teenager from what would have been a lost season. He's expected to begin the season in the low minors.

Last year, Lee won the Lee Young-min Batting Award, presented annually to the top-hitting high school player in the country, after batting .474 (45-for-95) in 27 games.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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