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New president, manager of troubled baseball club vow fresh start

All Headlines 13:45 November 13, 2014

BUSAN, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- New appointees of the Lotte Giants, the troubled South Korean baseball club, vowed Thursday to get the team off to a fresh start, apologizing for a series of unsavory incidents centered on the previous regime and players.

Lee Chang-won has been named the new president of the Busan-based Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, while former Lotte player Lee Jong-woon has been appointed the new manager.

They're taking over a team mired in trouble on and off the field.

Lee Chang-won succeeds Choi Ha-jin, who stepped down earlier this month amid allegations that he directed the front office to review footage of close-circuit television (CCTV) installed at the team's road hotels to check up on the players at nights after games.

Before the CCTV controversy emerged, a local media report claimed the Giants players voiced strong opposition to the club's earlier nomination of their former coach as the new manager, saying he was too close with the management for their liking. The players later claimed that their captain, Park Joon-seo, was pressured by the front office to send text messages to reporters to deny the veracity of the report on the players' mutiny.

On the field, the Giants missed the playoffs for the second straight season in 2014, and manager Kim Si-jin quit after the end of their season in mid-October.

Lee Chang-won opened his inauguration ceremony with an apology.

"Today, our club is in a deep crisis, the likes of which we haven't seen before," Lee said at the Giants home park, Sajik Stadium in Busan, about 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. "Teamwork within the organization was nowhere to be found, and we were all busy pointing fingers at each other. We made the fans turn their backs on us, and we deeply apologize for our action."

Lee said he will try to learn from the recent string of controversies.

"We in the front office should put faith in what the manager and his coaches do on the field," Lee added. "For myself, I will try to take the long-term view and support whatever decisions are being made in the dugout."

Lee Jong-woon, who spent nine of his 10 KBO seasons with the Giants, said he will try to use the ongoing crisis as an opportunity to turn the team around.

"I actually think that we have an opportunity to take the next step," he said. "I feel a huge sense of responsibilities taking over the team at a crossroads. I will try to become a great communicator with the players."

The new manager said he will try to bring the team back to the basics.

"It will come down to fundamentals," he added. "I will try to keep motivating the players by encouraging competition within. I will give opportunities to players who work hard and who try to earn their keep."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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