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(LEAD) Olympic baseball team to hold 1st practice on July 20

All News 15:31 July 07, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 5-7)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean Olympic baseball team will hold its first practice on July 20 in the nation's capital, nine days before launching its gold medal defense.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Wednesday the training schedule for the national team ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The KBO's pro league will go on an Olympic break from July 19 to Aug. 9, and the Olympic team, comprised entirely of KBO stars, will gather at a Seoul hotel on July 19.

The first practice will be July 20 at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul. On that same day, manager Kim Kyung-moon and players will hold a press conference.

In this file photo from June 16, 2021, Kim Kyung-moon, manager of the South Korean Olympic baseball team, announces his 24-man roster for the Tokyo Games at the Korea Baseball Organization headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)

On July 23, the national team will take on a team of under-24 KBO All-Stars in the first of its two tuneup games. Two days later, it will play the KBO club Kiwoom Heroes.

Later Wednesday, the KBO announced the 24-man roster for the U-24 team, dubbed "Rising Stars." It includes four rookies, including a pair of 19-year-olds for the Lotte Giants, Kim Jin-uk and Na Seung-yeup.

The pitching staff features KT Wiz right-hander So Hyeong-jun, the 2020 KBO Rookie of the Year, and the 2019 Rookie of the Year Jung Woo-young, a sidearm reliever for the LG Twins.

The U-24 team also has a couple of notable snubs for the Olympic roster: Hanwha Eagles reliever Kang Jae-min, who boasts a 1.09 ERA in 41 1/3 innings and once worked on 17 scoreless outings covering 24 2/3 innings, and Kang's teammate Jung Eun-won, who leads all second basemen with a .437 on-base percentage, an .877 on-base plus slugging percentage and a 3.28 wins above replacement.

The Olympic squad is scheduled to depart for Japan on July 26.

The Olympic baseball tournament will run from July 28-Aug. 7. South Korea, world No. 3, will begin the tournament against No. 24 Israel at 7 p.m. on July 29. It will then take on the No. 4 United States at 7 p.m. on July 31.

The knockout phase will go on from Aug. 1-4 and will have a double-elimination format.

The top seeds from each group will advance directly to the second round of the knockouts. The two second-place finishers and the two third-place teams will play each other, with the winners advancing to the second round.

Losing teams will meet in the losers' bracket, which provides countries a new chance to stay alive and keep advancing.

The bronze medal and gold medal games are set for Aug. 7, the eve of the closing ceremony.

South Korea won the baseball gold medal in 2008, when the sport was last contested at a Summer Olympics. It will return to the competition in the baseball-crazed Japan.

This image provided by the World Baseball Softball Confederation on June 29, 2021, shows the groups and schedule for the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

South Korea's roster features a couple of former major leaguers in outfielder Kim Hyun-soo and infielder Hwang Jae-gyun. The U.S. team, managed by former World Series-winning skipper Mike Scioscia, features one-time 40-homer slugger Todd Frazier and former big league arms Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir.

Israel will be led by four-time All-Star Ian Kinsler.


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