By Yoo Jee-ho
BUSAN, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean baseball champions competing in a continental club tournament aren't taking their upcoming opponents from Taiwan lightly, their manager said Thursday, especially after the Taiwanese hammered a Chinese team earlier in the day.
Ryu Joong-il, manager of the Samsung Lions, watched the Lamigo Monkeys of Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) pound the China Stars from the China Baseball League 15-1 to kick off the Asia Series in Busan. The game ended after seven innings under the "mercy rule," which calls off games when a team is ahead by 10 runs or more after seven.
The Lions, the 2012 champions of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), will face the Monkeys at 6 p.m. Friday for their first Asia Series match. And as the Monkeys belted three long balls Thursday, Ryu said his pitchers should be wary of Taiwanese hitters.
"They have some powerful hitters who can also make good contact," observed Ryu, who visited Sajik Stadium with his scouts while Samsung coaches ran the practice at another ballpark.
Lin Chih-Sheng, Chen Chin-Feng and Shin Chih-Wei each hit a home run. Before the Asia Series began, Ryu had said Lin, a power-hitting shortstop and a fixture on the Taiwanese national team, was the Monkeys' most dangerous player.
Lamigo's starter Tseng Chao-Hao pitched all seven innings, scattering six hits and giving up one run. Ryu said he would have liked to see some bullpen pitchers for the Monkeys and suspected the CPBL team was saving some pitchers for the game against Samsung.
Though the KBO is regarded as a superior competition to the CPBL, Ryu said the Monkeys deserve credit for winning their league.
"They won the Taiwanese title for a reason, and they have good defense and offense," Ryu said. "We can't afford to think that they're a notch below us and let our guard down."
The Lions will be without their two American pitchers, Mitch Talbot and Brian Gordon, who had 25 wins together as starters. But most of their key position players will be in action, including slugging first baseman Lee Seung-yeop.
The Asia Series also features the Yomiuri Giants, Japanese champs; the Perth Heat, the Australian league winner; and the Lotte Giants, the KBO team based in Busan.
The Lions, the Monkeys and the Stars are in Group A. Yomiuri, Lotte and Perth are in Group B. After intra-group play until Saturday, the top teams from the two groups will square off in the final on Sunday.
The winning team will take home 500 million won (US$460,500) in prize money.
K-pop star Sulli found dead: police
(LEAD) K-pop star Sulli found dead: police
(2nd LD) K-pop star Sulli found dead: police
Justice Minister Cho Kuk offers to resign
(URGENT) Justice Minister Cho Kuk steps down from post