Final spot of Korea World Baseball Classic team is decided; Jae-weong Seo of New York Mets officially notified the KBO on Sunday through his agent to express his wish to attend WBC.
KBO announced the 29 players named to the World Baseball Classic team On December 21st, leaving a room for Seo. His decision on the team makes this the strongest Korean baseball dream team ever. Seo returns to the national team for the first time in eight years since the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games where Korea won the gold metal in baseball.
Korea baseball fans all focus on Seo’s decision because it was hard to find any pitcher with Seo’s ability among the team’s 13-pitchers. Last year he first played in the minor league, then moving to the major league, ended the season as 8-2, 2.59 ERA with Mets.
National team manager In-shik Kim (Hanwha) said, “I would like Seo to pitch the match against Taiwan, which is the gateway to the main round.” Seo is likely to start the game against Taiwan on March 3 at 11 a.m. at Japan’s Tokyo Dome.
Korea is grouped with Japan, Taiwan and China in Pool A. Korea needs to beat Taiwan, regarded as Korea’s biggest rival, to advance to the second rounds, because Japan is almost certain to be in the final 8 teams.
Seo will start his personal training in Florida on Jan. 20, and then later join the overseas spring training camp run by Kia. He will also be joining the national team’s training camp in Fukuoka, Japan starting February 19.
Seo said, “A lot of fans preferred me to train hard during the winter so that I can have another good run in the big leagues next season. But since my country wanted me, I decided to participate and do what I can.”
KBO then announced the national team’s uniform number assignments for the World Baseball Classic, most players chose to keep their numbers from their clubs, but Seung-yeop Lee and Yeong-su Bae exchanged. Lee (Lotte) will wear number 25 for the classic. His regular number, 36, will be worn by Yeong-su Bae (Samsung).
Chan-ho Park (San Diego) will wear 61; Jae-ung Seo (New York Mets) will wear 26; Byung-hyun Kim (Colorado) will wear 49; Jong-bum Lee (Kia) will wear 9; and Byeong-kyu Lee will wear number 7.
Beom-ho Lee (Hanwha) will replace Han-su Kim (Samsung) because of back injury.
In the meantime, KBO also announced the schedule through the preliminary rounds. The Korea team will fly to Fukuoka on February 19 for climate training and a practice match against Lotte. After one more practice match on February 27, the climate training session will end.
The national team will be in Tokyo on January 28 to play one last practice match against the Japan Series champion Lotte Marines on March 1.