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Former MLB pitcher says criticism against Ryu Hyun-jin unfair

All Headlines 15:55 February 15, 2013

DOU LIOU CITY, Taiwan, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- A former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher on the South Korean national team said Friday some of the criticism against Ryu Hyun-jin, a new pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is unfair.

Taking a break from the national team's training camp for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) here in Taiwan, Seo Jae-weong addressed flak Ryu has taken over his smoking habits.

Ryu huffed and puffed his way at the back of the crowd during the first conditioning run at the Dodgers' training camp in Arizona earlier this week. The rotund pitcher claims to have shed up to eight pounds after giving up hamburgers, but his less-than-impressive showing on the field led some U.S. media to suggest Ryu should quit smoking, too.

Seo said he didn't understand why smoking had to be an issue for Ryu.

"More than half the MLB players smoke," claimed Seo, who pitched for three teams, including the Dodgers, from 2002 to 2007. "When I was with the Dodgers, a lot of pitchers and infielders smoked."

Seo wondered why the U.S. media were jumping on Ryu's cigarette-smoking habits when a lot of other players are chewing tobacco.

"When you play for big market teams like the Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees, there are bound to be issues with the media," Seo said. "I think they're just picking on him."

The veteran also advised Ryu to hold his head high and let his action on the mound do the talking.

"I hope he carries himself with more confidence in situations like this," Seo said. "One way to look at this is that the U.S. media are just that interested in Hyun-jin."

When asked about his smoking habits in Arizona on Thursday, Ryu said he's not committing any crime by using cigarettes and that he won't pay attention to media reports.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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