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Choi Hee-seop Slams a Second Homer

Posted March. 14, 2004 22:48,   


They competed against the best pitcher in the U.S. and Japan, respectively. “Big Choi” Choi Hee-seop (25-year-old, Florida) smiled, but “56’s man” Lee Seung-yeop (28-year-old, Lotte Marines) kneeled down. It was the exhibition game against Houston in Estadio Foro Sol Stadium, Mexico City on March 14. Choi took on Roger Clemens, who is the active most-wins pitcher and is expected to enter the Hall of Fame. Choi met him for the second time since he first took him on in a “nightmare” game against the New York Yankees last June 8 during his Chicago Cubs days. At that time, Choi was out one a popup to the third baseman during their first confrontation, and bumped against pitcher Kerry Wood to catch a pop-up infield, passing out. And the season rolled by.

Choi could have been nervous, but he wasn’t. As the starting first baseman and sixth hitter, Choi batted quite well, only to be caught by an infielder in the first inning, but he made an infield hit in the fourth inning.

Gaining confidence, Choi hit a double against the fourth starting pitcher, Wade Miller, and hit a solo homer, which crossed straight over the right fence against an excellent closer, Octavio Dotel, during his last chance in the eighth inning. It was a great performance, only missing a triple with three hits in four at bats, and 1 RBI. Florida won with 6-1.

Dropping his batting average to .190 with no hits and two at bats in the previous day, Choi boosted it up to .280 and showed his slugging ability with two homers and three doubles out of seven hits.

In the meantime, nicknamed the “56’s man” by the Japanese Press with his Asia record of 56 homers in a season, Lee Seung-yeop was struck out by Matsuzaka Daiske during the road game against Seibu, being dishonored by three straight strike outs.

Starting as a clean-up and first baseman, Lee missed his swing at a forkball in his first at bat and a high 147km/h fastball inside in his second at bat. He was also deceived by the outside fastball of Hoshino Domoki in the sixth inning and was replaced during defense. His batting average fell from .296 to .267.

Meanwhile, Song Seung-joon and Kim Seon-woo performed poorly in their starting in the split game with Montreal. Song captured a lucky victory, but allowed 5 hits and 5 runs (4 earned runs) including a homer for 3 innings against Detroit, and Kim gave up 4 hits and 3 runs through the fourth inning, taking his second loss.

Kim Byoung-hyun (Boston) is supposed to take a rest for a week due to a worsening injury of his shoulder and back.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com