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[Baseball] Giants Slugger Lee Sees Homerun Revival

Posted September. 23, 2008 03:13,   


Baseball slugger Lee Seung-yeop of Japan’s Yomiuri Giants is seeing a revival of his strong hitting at the end of the season, having suffered from left thumb surgery and a slump before the Beijing Olympics.

Most Japanese sports dailies yesterday praised the 32-year-old Korean on their front pages, with headlines such as “Miraculous 10-game Winning Streak by the Korean (Sports Nippon),” “Legendary Homer (Sports Hochi),” and “Decisive Hit Beats Hanshin (Sankei Sports).” His three-run homer in a home game against the Hanshin Tigers gave his team the lead in the Japanese Central League.

What is his secret? “I made no change in hitting position. I just recovered my hitting balance and confidence,” he said.

After hitting a three-run homer in a road game against the Yokohama BayStars, Lee said, “I’ve forgotten everything about the Beijing Olympics,” implying he is focusing on the playoffs instead of Korea’s gold medal performance.

Lee’s last homer in the Olympics was a boon to him, helping him recover his sense of hitting. Upon returning to Japan, he hit six of seven homers out of the ballpark.

“I liked the pitcher’s first ball, but after losing my sense of hitting, I often struck out,” he said, adding his confidence in hitting the first ball has gone up since the Olympics.

Lee has had to wear a rubber ring on his left thumb this season after getting injured in October last year. The rubber ring has relieved his pain but at the cost of his swing.

He has used a spongy pad instead of the rubber ring because he said he no longer feels pain in his thumb. “I feel more comfortable with the spongy pad than the rubber ring.”

Lee has used a 920-gram bat this season, including in the first inning against Yokohama last week, but switched to a 910-gram bat in the second. He said he felt comfortable with the lighter one.

It worked. Lee hit the first ball from left-hander Takumi Nasuno for a three-run homer and also hit another two homers in the fourth and sixth innings.

“The little change made my swing quicker and more accurate,” Lee said.