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(2nd LD) Baseball pitcher admits to fixing two games in 2014

All News 17:40 July 25, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with player's testimony)

UIJEONGBU, South Korea, July 25 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean baseball pitcher admitted to police on Monday he fixed two games in 2014.

Yoo Chang-sik, a left-handed pitcher for the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), was summoned by the Gyeonggi Bukbu Provincial Police Agency for questioning.

The move came after the pitcher confessed to his team on Saturday that he had deliberately walked a batter in a game on April 1, 2014. Yoo, 24, was then pitching for another club, the Hanwha Eagles, and he walked the Samsung Lions No. 3 hitter, Park Sok-min, in the top of the first inning in exchange for cash.

Then during a police interrogation Monday, Yoo said he'd issued a deliberate free pass in the top first against the LG Twins on April 19, also for cash.

Yoo said he received 1 million won (US$880) for the first game and 2 million won for the second game. It was initially reported he'd accepted 5 million won for the April 1 game.

Yoo earned 64 million won in salary in 2014. He debuted with the Eagles as the first overall pick in 2011 but was traded to the Tigers in May last year.

Police suspect that a retired baseball player, whose identity was withheld, played a role in the process. They are also investigating three other individuals who made illegal bets based on information provided by the former player.

Yoo is the third KBO player to come under match-fixing investigations this month, after Lee Tae-yang, pitcher for the NC Dinos in the KBO, and outfielder Moon Woo-ram, who's playing for the military club Sangmu in the Futures League, the KBO's minor league.

After his questioning was done around 4 p.m., Yoo apologized to the fans and the club.

"I felt guilty, and I became afraid after the match-fixing scandal broke out," Yoo said, when asked why he decided to turn himself in.

Yoo said he was asked by "an acquaintance" to fix games but when pressed for a reason, he said, "I can't tell you that."

Lee was also found to have issued walks on purpose in the first inning. In both cases, the broker and those who allegedly made illegal wagers appeared to have engaged in proposition bets, or "prop" bets.

These bets place odds on minor plays, such as the number of walks issued in a certain inning, or the number of free throws made in a quarter in a basketball game. There's often no cap on the amount of a wager for such bets, and it's considered easier for gamblers to fix such minute plays.

The only legal form of sports betting in South Korea is through buying Sports Toto lottery tickets. Sports Toto offers odds on wins, ties, losses and the combined scores between teams. A bettor can only wager 100,000 won per ticket.

The KBO on Monday suspended Yoo from all baseball-related activities. He will also not be paid during his suspension. The KBO said it will determine its further course of action depending on the result of the ongoing investigation.

Last week, Lee was indicted without physical detention for allegedly taking cash in exchange for issuing walks in games last season. Moon, who's under contract with the Nexen Heroes but is doing his mandatory military service in the minors, will face military prosecution.

Both Lee and Moon have been temporarily suspended, and are banned from engaging in any baseball-related activities. Once their charges are confirmed in court, they will likely face lifetime bans.

Yoo, on the other hand, could avoid a lifetime ban because he reported his wrongdoing to the club.

Last Friday, the KBO announced that it would accept confessions by players or club officials regarding match fixing through Aug. 12, and those who turn themselves in would not be slapped with lifetime bans.

Yoo, the first to fess up, may instead face an extended suspension but may ultimately be allowed to play in the league again.

Yoo is a career 16-33 with a 5.37 ERA in 127 appearances. He has made only one appearance for the Tigers this year, on May 28.

(END)

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