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Manager removes slumping hitter from middle of order in championship series

2018/11/09 17:13

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By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- After three hitless games from one of his key hitters in the Korean Series, Doosan Bears manager Kim Tae-hyung has seen enough.

With his club trailing the SK Wyverns 2-1 in the best-of-seven Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) championship series, Kim moved right fielder Park Kun-woo down from the third hole to the No. 6 spot in the lineup for Friday's Game 4.

The first pitch at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, just west of Seoul, is 6:30 p.m.

Kim Tae-hyung, manager of the Doosan Bears, speaks to reporters before Game 4 of the Korean Series against the SK Wyverns at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. Kim Tae-hyung, manager of the Doosan Bears, speaks to reporters before Game 4 of the Korean Series against the SK Wyverns at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov.

Park is a lifetime .334 hitter during the regular season and has been a fixture in the heart of the Bears' order for the past few years. His power numbers dipped in 2018 -- his home run total went from 20 to 12, and his slugging percentage dropped from .582 to .473 -- but he still batted a robust .326.

But so far in the Korean series, Park has gone 0-for-12 with a walk and four strikeouts. He batted third in the first three games.

"Where you hit in the lineup isn't really that important. You just have to cash in with the runners on," the manager said during his pre-game media session. "This is how things are in the postseason: you can be either a goat or a hero."

   Further down in the lineup, first baseman Oh Jae-il has also struggled, batting just 1-for-11 while batting sixth, seventh and eighth in three games.

Oh put together an outstanding second half, with 17 homers and 41 RBIs in 56 games after the All-Star break. He batted .354 in the second half to finish the regular season at a respectable .279, but hasn't been able to recapture that stroke so far in the Korean Series. He will bat seventh on Friday.

Park Kun-woo of the Doosan Bears goes down swinging against Angel Sanchez of the SK Wyverns in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap) Park Kun-woo of the Doosan Bears goes down swinging against Angel Sanchez of the SK Wyverns in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

The absence of regular cleanup hitter Kim Jae-hwan also hurts the Bears. Kim suffered a right oblique injury during batting practice before Game 3 Wednesday, and he's unlikely to play again this series.

The manager moved a couple of hot hitters into the middle of the order. Designated hitter Choi Joo-hwan, who's batted 6-for-11 with a team-best six RBIs, will bat third. Catcher Yang Eui-ji, who is 4-for-9 with four walks and two RBIs, will bat cleanup.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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