SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean southpaw Yang Hyeon-jong said Tuesday he will do his utmost to keep opponents off the scoreboard as long as he can to help the team capture the gold medal in baseball on home soil.
"I have no choice. My goal is to give up the fewest runs in games that I play," said Yang of the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), as the national baseball team had its first practice in Seoul in preparation for the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, the western port city.
The left-hander is one of the best pitchers in the KBO as he is ranked second with 15 wins and third with 148 strikeouts in the ongoing 2014 season.
He is expected to start in the semifinal or the final of the Asian Games that kicks off on Friday, should South Korea go that deep in the eight-team tournament.
Yang is making his second Asiad appearance. He contributed to the gold medal, along with Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, at the Guangzhou Asiad in 2010. Yang gave up one earned run in seven innings in two games four years ago.
Like other pitchers on the national team, including lefty Kim Kwang-hyun, Yang hasn't fared well in recent KBO games. He was shelled for nine earned runs in one inning last week, worrying his coaching staff and South Korean fans.
"I don't care about it. It's better to concede runs in the season than in the Asian Games," said the 26-year-old pitcher, who has an ERA of 4.27. "I'm focusing on improving my condition. I don't care who I take on."
He said he has faith in the veteran catcher Kang Min-ho, who has played in every major international tournament for the country since the 2006 Doha Asian Games. Kang helped South Korea to the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with nine straight wins.
"I'll depend on his experience, and he also caught me in Guangzhou four years ago," Yang said. "We will be able to adjust the strike zone more easily at the Asiad. It must be wider than ours (in the KBO)."
During the week-long training, South Korea will have a practice game against the LG Twins of the KBO on Thursday.
After the opening Group B match against Thailand on Monday, South Korea will take on Taiwan on Wednesday next week and Hong Kong the following day.
Group A includes China, Japan, Mongolia and Pakistan. The top two teams from Group A and B will advance to the semifinals.
South Korea's baseball team players and coaching staff pose ahead of the official practice session in Seoul on Sept. 16, 2014. (Yonhap)