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First Confrontation Early Tomorrow Morning Between Star Korean Pitcher and Star Japanese Batter

First Confrontation Early Tomorrow Morning Between Star Korean Pitcher and Star Japanese Batter

Posted September. 11, 2002 23:18,   


Now, finally they meet!

“Korean Express” Park Chan-ho (29, Texan Rangers) will take on “Pride of Japan” Suzuki Ichiro (29, Seattle Mariners) face to face.

The confrontation will take place at 4:45 a.m. on September 13 (Korean Time) in the Arlington Ball Park between Texan Rangers and Seattle Mariners. In the past, Park grounded out Ichiro in the last year’s All-Star game. As a regular game, this is the first time for their confrontation.

This match between Park and Ichiro is interesting in many respects. Both are of same age. In addition, each of them represents his country in ML: Korea and Japan.

Park has grown up to be a superstar pitcher, recording two-digit wins for five consecutive years from 1997 since his ’94 debut in American pro baseball. On the other hand, Ichiro, who found no match with him in Japan, won the Rookie of The Year and MVP, right upon debuting in the ML, and has had a new phrase coined “Ichiro Syndrome.”

Ichiro has earned a nickname “Wizard” from his teammates since, they believe, Ichiro contributes to Mariners with his “magical ability of attacking.” Ichiro has secured his position as top hitter in the ML with his talents: fast running ability reaching the first base in 3.7 seconds after hitting, accurate batting like from wielding a tennis racket, and strong shoulder honed as a pitcher in the past. This season only, his batting average is 0.327 (4th), along with 187 hits (3rd), 7 homers, 46 RBI and 28 steals (5th). In the first half of this season, his batting average reached up to 0.357. In the latter, he is a little stagnant with 0.282. But he comes first on the list of “dangerous batters” for Park.

Other than Ichiro, Seattle Mariners have plenty of other powerful batters in stock. This year, Mariners ranks 3rd in the AL West even with an excellent record of 84 wins (60 losses) and follow Oakland and Anaheim.

Mariners’ starting pitcher is to be Franklin. He contributed as a member of US national team in Sydney Olympics to US team’s getting championship with. This year, he has won 6 and lost 3 (ERA 4.05).

Park has been regaining his reputation with his 4-winning streak. But, the game against Mariners, a strong opponent, will put Park’s ability as ace at test again.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com