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"I’ve Just Gotten Started” Says Lee Seung-yeop

Posted February. 29, 2004 23:03,   


The 48,000-seat stands of the Hukuoka Dome, the home of the Daiei Hawks in the Japan League, were packed apart for just a few seats in outfield for an exhibition game on February 29.

Lee Seung-yeop, Asia’s homerun champion, 28 years old, of the Chiba Lotte Marines, looked relaxed. When asked, “Isn’t it tough to get along in a strange land?” he answered, “You reporters are having a hard time because of me.”

The Hawks’ starter was Saito, the franchise’s ace who posted 20 wins in his first five years in the league. Lee, who batted fourth and played first base, aggressively attempted to make a hit. This is because he believed he ended up with two strikeouts, a walk and no hits in a game with the Yomiuri Giants the day before because he was somewhat conservative in swinging the bat.

However, his hitting record did not tally up well on February 29. Lee took his first bat after three consecutive hits, including a run-scoring double by Hukura, his teammate who is competing for the first baseman position. Lee struck out by missing the first straight out-course ball, the second curve and the fourth out-course ball.

In his second at bat in the third inning with one out and one base hit, Lee made his first hit in exhibition games. After failed attempts to hit two curve balls, he hit the third one, flying in the same course and landing it near second base. In the fifth inning, when Saito was replaced by Naito, Lee’s bouncer fell into the glove of the shortstop. In a reverse order of the game with Yomiuri, he was replaced by Hukura in the fifth inning.

As of February 29, Lee posted one hit, one walk, three strikeouts out of his six at bats in two games, with a .167 hitting average.

As for defense, he passed the test as Lee slid and caught a fast grounder hit by Honma and got Shuleta before he reached second base in the fourth inning.

Lee has signed the final version of a two-year contract for 240 million yen, up 40 million yen from the previously negotiated amount.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com