Ahead of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), where the world’s best baseball players lined up to declare their participation. The Korean national team also became busy. National team coach Lee Kang-cheol 스포츠토토 (57) returned after examining Australia’s strength in the same group, while Kiwoom Lee Jeong-hoo (25) and KIA Lee Eui-ri (21) returned to the United States after taking a break and started to get fit.
Coach Lee, who looked at Australian baseball, predicted that Warwick Saupold (33) would start the game against Korea in the WBC when he returned home on the 9th. Saupold is a right-handed pitcher who played for Hanwha from 2019 to 2020 after going through the American Major League (MLB). Saupold recorded 22 wins, 24 losses, and an ERA of 4.16 over two seasons in Korea. Kim Hyeon-soo (35, LG), Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres), Kang Baek-ho (24, KT), and Park Geon-woo (33, NC) showed a strong performance by recording a batting average of close to 50% against Saupold. On the other hand, Choi Jeong (36, SSG) and Park Byeong-ho (37, KT) performed sluggishly with batting averages in the 10% range.
Coach Lee said, “Australia is highly likely to use all of its key pitchers in the game against Korea to rise to second place,” and “Apart from Saupold, there are several good pitchers in Australia who throw fastballs at 150 km/h.” “Australia tends to play tactical baseball a lot, such as bunts and active running base play,” he said.
Athletes are also busy preparing for the WBC. First of all, the pitching staff is adapting after receiving a ball from the KBO to use in the WBC at the end of last month. The official ball, a product of Rawlings, is slippery and has fewer seams than the ball used in the league.
Lee Jung-hoo and left-hander Young-gun Lee Eui-ri, who announced their plans to play in the Major League Baseball (MLB), also left for the United States. Lee Jung-hoo and Lee Eui-ri departed on the 9th to build up their bodies at a training center in LA. Considering that Kiwoom and KIA will start field training in Arizona, USA from February 1 side by side, they started building their bodies early on the 20th. Lee Jung-hoo is known to be training with Kim Ha-sung and planning to hold a meeting with a local agency to enter the MLB. After finishing the annual salary contract, Lee Jung-hoo left the country with a free mind. Lee Jung-hoo signed a large sum of over 1 billion won in annual salary with Kiwoom. An official from Kiwoom said, “The highest annual salary for the 7th year is a natural result,” and said, “We plan to disclose the specific amount later.”
Meanwhile, the other players on the national team will gather for an orientation at the Riviera Hotel in Seoul on the 16th. On this day, the team will receive official uniforms and receive an explanation of the rules of the competition. All athletes staying in Korea will participate in this event.