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Spring training behind, KBO clubs readying for preseason games

All Headlines 09:29 March 03, 2015

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- Having completed nearly two months of spring training overseas, the 10 Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) clubs will take the field for preseason games starting on Saturday.

Each club will play 14 games, barring inclement weather, from Saturday to March 22. The regular season will begin on March 28.

The KT Wiz is the 10th club in the KBO. They will look to veterans acquired via free agency and expansion draft, including former MVP Kim Sang-hyun and national team shortstop Park Ki-hyuk, to get them over the hump in their inaugural season.

They will carry four foreign players in their first two seasons, one more than the rest of the league, and their contingent includes right-hander Chris Oxspring, a veteran of four KBO seasons, and former major league infielder Andy Marte.

The Samsung Lions have won the past four championships, and will look to become the first KBO club ever to win five in a row. They are an aging club but Koo Ja-wook, a highly-touted 22-year-old infielder, may just represent the team's future. He appeared in all nine practice games at camp and went 18-for-38 (.474) with two homers, six RBIs and four steals.

Though he's primarily a first baseman, Koo played some center field at camp, as manager Ryu Joong-il tried to find a place for the hot-hitting youngster.

The Nexen Heroes, runners-up to the Lions last year, will try to plug the hole left by the departure of Kang Jung-ho, their former shortstop who signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason.

Kang batted fifth in the lineup and belted 40 homers last year, a single-season record by a shortstop. Backup third baseman Yoon Suk-min will get a long look as the new shortstop, while newly acquired Brad Snyder, an outfielder with power, should take Kang's spot in the lineup.

The five clubs that missed the postseason last year have all changed their managers, hoping the new bench bosses can change their fortune.

The SK Wyverns made a late push last season before ending in fifth place, one game out of the final playoff spot. Kim Yong-hee, former head of player development, has taken the reins, and the Wyverns are eyeing their first postseason appearance since 2013.

The Doosan Bears came within a victory of taking the championship in 2013 but slipped to sixth place in 2014. They let go of manager Song Il-soo after one season and brought in former catcher Kim Tae-hyung.

The Lotte Giants were a team in turmoil during the winter, with the front office executives facing allegations that they spied on players on road trips by illegally reviewing closed-circuit television footage. The players also disapproved of the management's choice for their new manager before first base coach Lee Jong-woon was promoted as the new skipper.

Lee, a former Giants outfielder, has taken on an underachieving team that has missed the postseason for the past two years.

The Kia Tigers have also been on the outside looking in recently, and Kim Ki-tai, who led the LG Twins to the postseason in 2013 before being dismissed early last season, will try to work his magic again as the Tigers' new manager.

The Hanwha Eagles have been in the league cellar for each of the past three seasons. Kim Sung-keun, their new manager, brings championship pedigree and a reputation as a no-nonsense disciplinarian, tasked with whipping the Eagles into shape.

There will be no makeup games in case of rainouts during the preseason. All games will start at 1 p.m., and there will be no extra innings.

The teams are allowed to put in players not on their active rosters.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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