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“Korea’s Hitter” Demoted

Posted May. 11, 2004 22:26,   


What a shock.

“Korea’s Hitter,” Lee Seung-yeop (28 years old, Chiba Lotte Marines) has been demoted to one of Chiba Lotte’s farm teams.

The decision was revealed in an interview with Manager Bobby Valentine around 12:00 A.M. after a game against the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Sapporo Dome on May 10. Lee showed up as a pinch hitter in the 7th and struck out in the game.

Complying with the decision, Lee traveled to Tokyo by plane on the morning of May 11 and played a game against a farm team of the Yomiuri Giants in Urawa Stadium, which is used for Chiba Lotte’s second-class team. His return to Chiba Lotte’s 1st class team will be possible 10 days after his demotion on May 21 at the earliest.

It is first time that Lee has been demoted to a second-class team. Because he has never been in a second-class team in the Korea League in all his nine years there, the demotion must have been a great shock to him.


Lee has been in a slump, with three hits in 22 at bats (.136) without a homer in the last 7 games. He was hitting .233 and had 5 homers and 19 RBIs for the season. These results are not enough for a clean-up hitter.

Conversant with Japan Baseball, former LG Manager Kim Seong-keun has watched Lee’s recent play, saying, “He misses must-hit balls. He shouldn’t miss his favorite courses. But now he doesn’t even have those courses.”

His unsteady batting form is also a problem. Former Manager Kim pointed out, “His batting style changes according to pitchers. He lifts his leg higher or lower, standing close to home plate or far from it sometimes, without keeping his own style. The basic rule for hitters is not to change batting form regardless of a pitcher.

--He performed great in the beginning…

The reason is because Lee and his opposition didn’t know each other. It is highly probable that both Lee and Japanese pitchers had not known thoroughly each other. In addition, Lee’s swing was compact in the beginning. He gripped the bat short to make hits, but his swing has become longer. Manager Kim says that his swing has started to shift upwards ever since his consecutive homers on April 4 and 5. His uppercut swings for distance have lowered his accuracy, he has been nervous and he has lost confidence from not hitting well.

--Chiba Lotte?

Blowing up a storm in the beginning of season, Lotte is in the midst of a 10-game losing streak with Lee’s inactiveness, and has fallen to last place in the Pacific League with 15 wins, 1 draw and 22 losses. (0.405) Their relievers have performed badly, including their closer, Kobayashi, and their batting is also not strong. Five foreign players have not been fulfilling their roles.

Lotte is seeking a new foreign closer who will replace the inactive Kobayashi. The maximum number of foreign players allowed on first-class teams is four, so Lee will not be able to keep his position if a new foreign closer is added to the roster.

He was a franchise star in Samsung, but Lee is just another foreign player in Lotte. He can be dismissed anytime according to his output.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com