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Slugger Breaks Out of Early Season Slump in Japan

Posted April. 05, 2010 00:36,   


Slugger Kim Tae-kyun of the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan hit 1-13 (.077) in his first three games of the season March 20-22.

Kim, 28, also struck out six consecutive times, a record for opening day.

On the highly touted player’s unexpected slump, a baseball expert said, “Kim Tae-kyun seems to have shown his weakness in exhibition games.”

A confident Kim said, however, “I’m just beginning. I’ll adapt to the environment shortly.”

The cleanup hitter has kept his promise. Kim has had a flurry of hits over several days and raised his batting average to .300.

He made Lotte’s game at the Orix Buffaloes Saturday his personal showcase, going 4-4 at the plate with a solo homer. He also had a walk.

The homer on Friday was his first in 44 at-bats since he joined the Japanese league. He hit a round-tripper 130 meters that flied over the right fence off a fastball from Orix’s No. 3 pitcher Daisuke Kato in the ninth inning, when Lotte was leading 9-4. The homer raised Kim’s batting average to .300 (12 hits in 40 at-bats).

Thanks to his stellar performance, Lotte is leading the Pacific League for the first time since July 5, 2007. The daily Sports Nippon carried a large story on the play of Kim and fifth batter Shoitsu Ohmatsu, saying, “KO hits knock out the Orix Buffaloes.” “KO” represents the English initials of Kim and Ohmatsu, who are both 28. Ohmatsu reportedly grew close to Kim in spring training, inviting the Korean to join a club of players born in 1982. Ohmatsu went 3-5 in the game with three RBIs, including a two-run homer.

Kim went 2-5 against Orix yesterday, extending his hitting streak to four games and his multi-hit streak to three games. He also added a walk to tie the league lead with 10 and raised his batting average to .311 (14 hits in 45 at-bats).

Lotte crushed the second-place Orix, 10-4, to open a two-game lead.

In Tokyo, Lee Seung-yeop of the Yomiuri Giants started at first base and batted fifth for the first time this season in a 10-3 away win against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Lee went 0-4 including two strikeouts. He had played substitute defender and pinch hitter until Saturday.