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Players trade verbal jabs ahead of baseball final

All Headlines 17:19 October 28, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- On the eve of the Korean Series, the championship final in baseball, players traded some verbal jabs Friday, poking fun at everything from each other's fastball velocity to wonky backs.

The Doosan Bears will host the NC Dinos to open the best-of-seven series at 2 p.m. Saturday at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. The Bears are going for their second straight championship in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), while the Dinos are seeking their first title in just their fourth year of existence.

And at the pre-series press conference on Friday, the player reps from each team lightened up the mood.

Yoo Hee-kwan, Doosan left-hander who won 15 games in the regular season, said he was particularly confident against NC's 40-year-old designated hitter Lee Ho-jun, who was sitting on the opposite side of the podium.

Yoo Hee-kwan of the Doosan Bears (R) playfully grabs Park Sok-min of the NC Dinos at the start of the press conference ahead of the Korean Series held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 28, 2016. (Yonhap)

"I looked up our head-to-head numbers, and I didn't give up a lot of hits against him," Yoo said of the hitter who went 2-for-9 with a home run during the regular season.

"I watched him in the earlier round," Yoo continued. "And his swing didn't look all that impressive. His back must be hurting quite a bit."

Yoo is one of four Bears pitchers to win at least 15 games this season, making them the first team to have that many.

Lee said Yoo was the most difficult pitcher among the four -- but not for the reasons you'd think.

"I can't hit Yoo Hee-kwan because his pitches are too slow," Lee said, mocking the pitcher whose average fastball velocity is 128 kilometers per hour (79.5 miles per hour). It ranked him 247th among 250 pitchers who appeared in a KBO game this season.

"In the Korean Series, pitchers tend to throw a bit harder, and I'll be looking forward to that," Lee added.

Park Sok-min, third baseman for the Dinos, chimed in.

"It's amazing you won 15 games with that pitch," he quipped.

Lee Ho-jun of the NC Dinos speaks during the press conference ahead of the Korean Series held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 28, 2016. (Yonhap)

Lee turned a bit more serious, though, as he talked about wanting to cap off his productive career with a championship.

He just completed his 20th regular season, and the ageless wonder has hit at least 20 home runs in each of his past four years. With 330 regular season long balls, Lee is fourth on the all-time list.

Lee has won three championships with two different teams earlier in his career, but said being part of the Dinos' first championship will be special.

"I'd love to have my name on the franchise's first championship team," he said. "I don't know when the next opportunity will come, and my one remaining dream in baseball is to win the title with this group of players."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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