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Lotteman, Lee Seung-yeop: Go Go Go!

Posted January. 26, 2004 23:18,   


Unfamiliar place, unfamiliar people.

Lee Seung-yeop, a 28-year-old slugger representing Korea, finished his first training day as a member of the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Lee began training at the Lotte Marines’ Urawa Stadium as part of the second team in Saitama, close to Tokyo, after he appeared around 10 a.m. and greeted teammates who were in training there.

His training time was only about two hours, but the results were satisfying. Lee received all the running, batting, weight training, and in-field instruction along with nine other players of three starters, including pitcher Komiyamawa Kuroki, who played for New York Mets, and Hori, and six rookies.

He spent his first day wearing simple training clothes because he won’t be able to put on a uniform until the regular spring camp starts on February 1.

“I will be judged by my ability. I will take care of my job without minding Coach Valentine,” said Lee in a post-training interview with Japanese news reporters who asked him about his competition for a position against the current starting first baseman, Fukuura. Lee and Valentine did not meet because Valentine arrived in Japan later that evening.

Meanwhile, the Japanese press is showing a strong interest in Korea’s home run king, Lee, by covering everything Lee does.

Japanese sports newspapers like Nikkan Sports, Sankei Sports and Sports Hochi treated the news of Lee’s arrival in Japan as front-page news. Nikkan Sports ran the headline “Lee Seung-yeop fever lands in Japan” in its coverage of Lee’s reception at the airport where fans had gathered to welcome him.

Approximately 50 Japanese news reporters showed up at Urawa Stadium, reflecting the passionate media interest the “Lion King,” who broke the Asian home run record with 56, has generated.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com