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Lee Kang-Cheol Save His Face in Home Town

Posted September. 21, 2001 08:48,   


Kia`s `Submarine` Lee Kang-Cheol (35) established an honorable all-time record of 10 consecutive seasons double digit wins.

Lee had led then his team Haitai Tigers to the victory five times, and had been selected as a MVP in 1996 Korean series. However, as he reached his 30s, he began to show the downward slope. After recording 15 wins in 1998, Lee could not play even a game due to the right knee surgery in 1999 and was traded to the Samsung in November the same year. He dreamt of a revival in new city but he earned only one win and four losses out of 14 games last year, relegated by the young players. And the situation did not change for season.

However, he grasped the last chance that came to him. Lee came back to his former team Kia Tigers at the end of July. Returning to his dear hometown, Lee pledged himself to start again, and was finally able to wear the long-awaited smile.

Lee Kang-Cheol threw his first win since he transferred to the Kia, with 5 strikes, 2 hits and 1 ER for 3 and 1/3 innings in game with the Hanhwa on 19th. Lee took the mound as a relief pitcher in the fourth inning with no out and runners on the first and the third, and struck out Hanhaw`s Kang Seok-Cheon, Baik Jae-Ho, and Cho Kyung-Taik in a row to receive the praise ``He is the One.`` As he succeeded to relieve with the experienced pitching, he bestowed a crucial win to his team that had been struggling for the playoffs.

Lee took charge as the interim captain of the team since changing the uniform, but he has actually not played a proper role as a veteran player, feeling as if he was sitting on thorns. Although he talked with modesty saying that ``I will try to lead the young players rather than to try to earn my own win when he moved to the Kia.``, Lee has been under the pressure because he did not record even a win.

With the win, Lee recovered his confidence and said ``since I recently picked up the pitching balance, I could throw more powerfully. I feel like liberated from the burden and I will try to help the team.``

Kia Manager Kim Sung-Han praised him saying, ``Recovery of veteran Lee made me feel confident. In the midst of the fierce race for the playoff, he has greatly encouraged his young teammates.``

Kim Jong-Seok kjs0123@donga.com