(ATTN: ADDS comments in last 2 paras, photo)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- The Lotte Giants have scored a grand total of five runs in their past four games in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) heading into their weekend series against the Doosan Bears starting Friday.
But when the Bears' manager Kim Tae-hyoung looks across the diamond and into the opposing dugout, he sees a lineup that can go off at any moment.
"Every team has its ups and downs, and the Giants' lineup can be really explosive," Kim said in his pregame media availability at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. "So we have to keep that in mind when we face them. Our pitchers have to be on their toes."
Kim didn't single out any hitters, but the Giants, on paper, should be a better hitting team than their .255/.325/.381 line shows. Their on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), .706, puts them in eighth place among 10 clubs.
Their lineup tends to be top heavy, with Min Byung-hun, Jeon Jun-woo, Son Ah-seop, Lee Dae-ho and An Chi-hong, five All-Stars with strong track records, often batting one through five.
Of the bunch, Jeon has hit a team-best four home runs but none since May 17. Lee, the franchise icon, is stuck at one home run, though he's leading the team with a .360 batting average. New shortstop Dixon Machado, regarded as a defense-first acquisition, has surprised with four home runs and a team-leading 15 RBIs, but he's only slashing .206/.286/.441.
Still, with the Bears ranking last in team ERA with 6.20, Kim doesn't want to poke the sleeping bear and have the Giants' offense come alive against his team.
And the manager has his own lineup to worry about: They were held hitless in 4 2/3 innings against SK Wyverns' starter Lee Geun-wook in Thursday's 6-1 loss, and managed just three hits for the game.
"I felt that we weren't swinging the bat with any sort of energy last night," Kim said. "Even the hits that we had didn't come on good contact."
Later Friday, Lotte manager Her Mun-hoe preached patience when it comes to his offense.
"It's a long season, and we'll begin this series with a clean slate," said Her, a former hitting coach with the Nexen (currently Kiwoom) Heroes. "We'll have games where we don't score a lot of runs and leave men on base. I just have to trust these guys and wait for them to come around. I am not too concerned about our stats."
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