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A Team that Can Hold On to One-Run Leads in the Late Innings

A Team that Can Hold On to One-Run Leads in the Late Innings

Posted November. 09, 2004 23:15,   


“I’ll make Samsung the kind of team that can hold on to even the slightest of leads.”

Samsung’s new manager, Sun Dong-ryul, took his position at a pay unprecedented in the history of Korean professional baseball. True to his background as a pitcher, he announced that he would “change the Lions’ team color, from a club that wins by swinging bats to one that comes through in save situations.”

Dong-A: A few words on your new appointment?

Sun Dong-ryul: Working under my predecessor, Kim Eung-ryong, this season, I wanted to make sure that he made an honorable retirement, but… When I received word of my new appointment around noon, I was perplexed and saddened for him. I can’t hope to equal his achievements, but I will try my best.

Dong-A: What did you two talk about on your journey up from Daegu to Seoul?

Sun: He said, “I’m handing over the reins with an easy mind.” I offered him my apologies, and told him that I learned a lot while working for him.

Dong-A: What kind of baseball do you wish to play from now on?

Sun: Samsung has been an offense-oriented team thus far. But in the future, 70 percent of our efforts will go toward keeping our lead. Rather than winning by home runs, we’re going to aim at maintaining even one-run leads in the late innings.

Dong-A: Is this very different from the approach advocated by your predecessor?

Sun: I will retain the good parts, but certain things no longer work. These days, baseball does not place all responsibility on the hitters.

Dong-A: Is there anything you’d like to say to your players?

Sun: I will emphasize to them that you cannot give up until the last out of the ninth inning. There can be no giving up in baseball.

Dong-A: Any thoughts on recruiting Shim Jung-soo and Park Jin-man?

Sun: It’s too soon to think about that. I will consider such things one by one after a few days.

Dong-A: How about changes to your coaching staff…?

Sun: That will have to wait as well. Right now, my mind is in a whirl.

After the official press conference, the new manager of the Lions lit himself a cigarette in the lounge. He shook his head from side to side, remarking, “Wow, when I suddenly got the call, I was completely bowled over.” When asked about Kim Eung-ryong’s reaction, he laughed and recalled, “‘Now you have a go at it!’ was what he said.”

Sun will meet officially with his players in Daegu on November 10.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com