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Home-run King Lee Arrives

Posted November. 20, 2003 22:58,   


Lee Seung-yeop, the 27-year-old slugging first baseman, who is out on a “personal sale” mission, enters into earnest negotiations.

Lee arrived in the U.S. on November 19 and visited Seattle with John Kim, Lee`s agent at SFX, on November 20. John Kim said, “After we meet the Mariners personnel on November 21, we will go back to Los Angeles.”

Lee Seung-yeop is expected to meet scouting people in charge, including General Manager Dan Evans of the L.A. Dodgers, on November 22 and is planning to visit Edison Field (Anaheim Angels’ home field) on November 23 or 24. All three of these teams dispatched scouts in charge of East Asia and have expressed interest in Lee. In particular, the Dodgers and the Angels were very active by sending Lee an invitation letter.

The reason why Lee Seung-yeop is moving fast is to heat up the frozen free agent (FA) market. Lee has been worried because he currently does not have a tangible offer since becoming a FA on November 9 and has visited the U.S. on John Kim’s advice that it would be helpful to visit the teams in person. As he expected, his visit has already drawn the attention of U.S. media and major league teams.

On Anaheim’s homepage (http://anaheim.angels.mlb.com), Doug Miller, reporter of mlb.com, said, “Korean home run king, Lee Seung-yeop, landed in L.A. at the invitation of the Dodgers and the Angels, and he will be able to sign a contract during this visit," as the headline news under the title “Korean Lee (Lee Seung-yeop) to tour Edison Field.”

In addition, the article added that Anaheim general manager Bill Stoneman said last week, "Those are the questions I don`t respond to with any confirmation or denial. He`s respected as being a talented guy. What I`m not going to get into is what our level of interest might be." However, Lee’s team is worried that the media is focusing on only one or two teams. To get a better option, he needs plenty of teams’ offers. If only one or two teams are discussed in priority, it is certain that other teams are reluctant to make an offer. Lee’s sudden comment saying he likes Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards (The short right field fence is only 97 meters) at a brief press conference is interpreted as a negotiation strategy to bring more teams to the table. “The biggest publicity” and “the best option” are the reasons why Lee came to the U.S.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com