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(2nd LD) Mariners' Lee Dae-ho belts first home run in U.S.

All Headlines 10:47 March 08, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS comments in paras 6-9, other results at bottom)

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- Lee Dae-ho of the Seattle Mariners belted his first home run in the United States in preseason action on Monday.

Lee hit a solo shot off Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Matt Reynolds in the bottom eighth of their Cactus League game in Peoria, Arizona.

Lee replaced Adam Lind at first base to start the sixth inning and took Lind's fifth spot in the order. Then in his lone at bat, Lee took a 1-2 offering from Reynolds over the left field wall to cut the Mariners' deficit to 10-7.

He turned a double play in the top ninth, but hit into one himself in the bottom ninth.

With two men aboard and the Mariners down 10-8, Lee represented the go-ahead run at the plate, but grounded into a rally-killing, 4-6-3 double play. The Mariners ended up losing the game 10-8.

Lee told the Seattle Times that while he was pleased with the home run, he wished he could have kept the rally going in the ninth.

"The fastball was kind of slow, but I hit it hard," Lee said through his interpreter of the 85-mile-per-hour offering. "I still feel bad that I hit into that last double play."

Mariners' manager Scott Servais said Lee had "an interesting at-bat" that provided a glimpse into the power that made him a premier slugger in both Korea and Japan for more than a decade.

"He fouls a ball off his knee, then he hits the next pitch about 480 feet," Servais told the Seattle Times. "There's big power in there. We know that."

Lee ended the game 1-for-2. He's batting 2-for-5 for spring.

The South Korean slugger signed a minor league deal with the Mariners last month with an invitation to spring training. The 2015 Japan Series MVP, who has also won a regular season MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), is trying to make the M's 25-man roster.

Lind, a left-handed hitting veteran, is expected to serve as the Mariners' primary first baseman, and Lee is battling other right-handed hitters to be Lind's backup.

Lee is one of three South Korean position players to join a major league club over the offseason, along with Minnesota Twins' Park Byung-ho and Baltimore Orioles' Kim Hyun-soo.

The two clubs faced each other in Sarasota, Florida, Monday. Kim went 0-for-2 and is now hitless in 18 at-bats in the spring. Park, who hit a grand slam Sunday for his first U.S. home run, had a day off against the Orioles. The Twins won the game 3-0.

Elsewhere, Texas Rangers' veteran outfielder Choo Shin-soo went 2-for-2 with a run scored as the Rangers beat the San Francisco Giants 6-5.

A Korean prospect for the Giants, shortstop Lee Hak-ju, came in as a pinch-runner and ended up going 0-for-1 with a walk at the plate.

Another minor league prospect, Choi Ji-man of the Los Angeles Angels, went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the club's 8-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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