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Manager, coaches to meet over World Baseball Classic roster

All Headlines 15:27 November 07, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- The national baseball team's coaching staff will meet this week over the roster for next year's World Baseball Classic (WBC), the sport's professional governing body said Monday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said manager Kim In-sik will meet with two pitching coaches, Sun Dong-yol and Song Jin-woo, and hitting coach Lee Soon-cheol at 11 a.m. Thursday at the KBO headquarters to whittle down their 50-man provisional roster to 28.

The upcoming meeting will likely be dominated by the potential inclusion of St. Louis Cardinals' closer Oh Seung-hwan, who was left off the provisional roster on Oct. 6 because of his off-field issues.

As a major league rookie in 2016, the right-hander had 19 saves and a 1.92 ERA in 76 appearances, and he is also the KBO's career leader in saves with 277. But he would be a controversial national team pick after getting fined by a South Korean court on illegal overseas gambling charges earlier this year. The KBO also slapped him with a 72-game ban, which is to take effect if he rejoins the domestic league where he spent the first nine years of his career.

Manager Kim faced a strong backlash in September when he hinted that he was willing to look past Oh's gambling history to pick him for the WBC team.

Under the WBC rules, players not already on the provisional roster may still be named to the final roster.

The fourth edition of the tournament will take place from March 9-22 next year. An official with the KBO said the WBC organizers haven't set a hard deadline to submit the final roster, and it's expected to fall sometime in February.

In this file photo taken on Oct. 6, 2016, national baseball team manager Kim In-sik (R) holds a meeting in Seoul with pitching coach Song Jin-woo over the provisional roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. (Yonhap)

When discussing Oh's situation last month, Kim said, "If you think strictly in baseball terms, Oh Seung-hwan is someone we absolutely need. But we've seen some unfortunate incidents in baseball this year (such as gambling and match-fixing scandals) and we have to think long and hard about (Oh's selection)."

Kim named other major leaguers to the provisional team: Texas Rangers' outfielder Choo Shin-soo, Baltimore Orioles' outfielder Kim Hyun-soo, Pittsburgh Pirates' infielder Kang Jung-ho, and Minnesota Twins' designated hitter Park Byung-ho. First baseman Lee Dae-ho, also on the 50-man roster, played for the Seattle Mariners in 2016 and is now a free agent.

Ryu Hyun-jin, a left-hander for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was not considered because of his elbow operation in September. Choi Ji-man, a utility man for the Los Angeles Angels who bounced between the majors and the minors this year, was also not picked.

Choo made four trips to the disabled list this year with calf, hamstring and arm injuries. Park underwent season-ending hand surgery in August and returned home in September to begin his offseason rehab.

Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul will host the first round action next March. South Korea will face the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei and Israel in Pool B.

Kim will travel to Tokyo on Friday to watch Japan and the Netherlands play exhibition games there on Saturday and Sunday. He will be joined by coaches Lee and Song, and advance scouts.


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