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MLB's Choo, star lefty Ryu part of WBC provisional roster

All Headlines 10:15 November 12, 2012

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- Outfielder Choo Shin-soo, the only South Korean playing in Major League Baseball (MLB), and pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, in negotiations for a major league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, were among 28 players named on Monday to the country's provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) next year.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) unveiled a list of 13 pitchers, two catchers, eight outfielders and five infielders for the international competition.

The roster also included slugging first baseman Lee Dae-ho, who led Japan's six-team Pacific League with 91 RBIs in his first season with the Orix Buffaloes.

Choo, a right-fielder for the Cleveland Indians, has posted two seasons of at least 20 home runs and 20 steals in the big leagues. The Dodgers recently won the exclusive right to negotiate with Ryu, after submitting a bid of about US$25.7 million in posting. Ryu, a 25-year-old left-hander, won the league MVP and the Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 and has been one of South Korea's most dominant starters since.

Ryu Joong-il, manager of the reigning KBO champion Samsung Lions, will manage the national team.

South Korea finished third at the inaugural WBC in 2006 and was runner-up to Japan at the 2009 tournament.

The availability for Choo and Ryu, however, remains murky. Upon returning home from the U.S. last month, Choo told reporters that he needed to discuss his playing in the WBC with the Indians. Their new manager, Terry Francona, may want to hold back some key players for the spring training that overlaps with the WBC, Choo said.

Should Ryu reach a contract with the Dodgers, the big league club may seek to keep the pitcher in the training camp to get ready for his first major league season and may be reluctant to release him for the March 2-19 WBC.

Other KBO players on the provisional roster include: right-handed pitcher Yoon Suk-min, the league MVP last year; closer Oh Seung-hwan, the KBO's all-time saves leader; and submarine relief pitcher Chong Tae-hyon, who got the final two outs in South Korea's gold medal victory over Cuba at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Park Byung-ho, voted the KBO MVP this year after leading the league in home runs and RBI for the Nexen Heroes, was left off the team.

The KBO will finalize the roster by the end of this month.

For the first round, South Korea has been paired in Pool B with Australia, the Netherlands, and a qualifier to be determined this month. The fourth and the final place will go to the winner of the qualification round among Taiwan, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines. Pool B teams will play in Taichung, Taiwan.

The WBC expanded to 28 teams this time, with 12 countries having qualified for the first round and 16 others competing for four spots in the first round.

In the opening round, Pool A features Japan, China, Cuba and a qualifier. Pool C has Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and a qualifier. Pool D includes the U.S., Mexico, Italy and a qualifier.

In the double-elimination second round, the top two teams from Pool A will face the top two from Pool B at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, from March 7 to 10. The first two seeds from Pool C and Pool D will square off on the other side of the bracket at Marlins Park, the home of the Miami Marlins of MLB in Florida, from March 12 to 16.

The semifinals and the final will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco, home of the 2012 World Series champion, the San Francisco Giants.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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