Former Boston Red Sox prospect Song Seung-jun has been pitching well in his Korean return with the Lotte Giants. / Korea Times
By Kang Seung-woo
Right-hander Song Seung-jun of the Lotte Giants and veteran outfielder Park Jae-hong of the SK Wyverns were added to the fourth preliminary roster of South Korea's national baseball team for the Beijing Olympic qualifiers.
Yoon Dong-gyoon, chairman of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) technical committee, announced Monday 41 players, 11 fewer than the third roster last month.
The 27-year-old Song, who joined the Giants this year, signed with the Boston Red Sox in 1999.
For eight years, he has never made it to the big leagues but accumulated 56 wins and 42 losses with a 3.50 ERA in the minors.
He is the first three-time participant in the Futures Games, an event to showcase the minor leagues and round out the All-Star week festivities.
In the Korean league, he is 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 19 games including 11 starts, brandishing his 150-kph fastball.
Internationally-experienced Park also made the roster.
The 33-year-old outfielder played at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
He is the first South Korean player to reach the 30 homer - 30 stolen base club in 1996.
The KBO also selected Lee Byung-kyu of the Chunichi Dragons, Lee Seung-yeop of the Yomiuri Giants and Park Chan-ho of the Houston Astros.
``Lee Byung-kyu is 100 percent to play in the qualifying round but injured Lee Seung-yeop is uncertain,'' said Yoon.
``Yoo Nam-ho, a member of the technical committee, met Lee Seung-yeop last week. He cannot move his left thumb at all. He is likely to have surgery after the season. If so, he will not be able to particiapte in the preliminary round.''
The final qualifying round will be held in Taiwan in December.
As for Lee Byung-kyu, he said, ``He is willing to play for his country.''
Yoon, 58, also talked about Park Chan-ho, playing in the U.S. minor leagues.
``As he wants to join the national team and manager Kim Kyung-moon asked us to summon Park, we plan to add players abroad such as Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians and Ryu Jae-kuk of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays onto the final preliminary roster. Wheter they are picked for the qualifying round will be decided later,'' he said.
The KBO will name 33 players for the final preliminary roster in late September. They will fly to Okinawa, Japan to prepare for the qualifiers from November 14 to 26.
After the training, the final 24 members and three reserves will be chosen and move to Taiwan to claim a berth to Beijing.