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(Premier12) S. Korean manager sees need for speed vs. Australia

All Headlines 18:36 November 06, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- Ahead of South Korea's first Premier12 game against Australia on Wednesday, manager Kim Kyung-moon filled the top third of his batting order with speedy runners.

The South Korea-Australia showdown at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul is the official opening game of the Group C play at the Premier12, which also serves as an Olympic qualifying tournament for the Americas and Asia/Oceania regions. Earlier in the day, Canada beat Cuba 3-0.

South Korean manager Kim Kyung-moon (in blue jumper) watches his team's practice ahead of the Premier12 tournament at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 5, 2019. (Yonhap)

Taking note of Canadian right-hander Phillippe Aumont's two-hitter gem, Kim said, "When starters are on their game from the get-go, it's going to be hard to score runs. We have to make things happen on the base paths."

Leading off will be Park Min-woo, who had 18 steals in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) this season for the NC Dinos. Park has reached double figures in stolen bases in each of the past six years.

The No. 2 hitter is Kim Ha-seong, who ranked second in the KBO with a career-high 33 steals. He'll be followed by his Kiwoom Heroes teammate Lee Jung-hoo, who doesn't steal a ton -- 36 total in his first three seasons -- but who's considered a smart runner.

"Our first three hitters all have enough speed to be able to steal bases," Kim said in his pre-game session with the media. "And they're smart runners, too. Because we haven't been playing a lot of games lately, our hitters may struggle early on against good pitching. So we'll have to capitalize on our speed."

On the mound, left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong, who led the KBO with a 2.29 ERA for the Kia Tigers, will start against Australia.

"Hopefully, he'll take us deep into the game, but we won't get him past 100 pitches," Kim said, adding that he won't hesitate to go to his bullpen.

Slugging third baseman Choi Jeong was held out of the starting lineup with a leg injury sustained during practice on Monday. Kim said the injury is minor and Choi will be available to pinch hit.

With Hur Kyoung-min taking Choi's spot at the hot corner, South Korea loses some pop in the lineup but gets a defensive upgrade.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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