Garcia Top All-Star Vote Getter
By Kang Seung-woo
When former U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB) player Karim Garcia signed with the Lotte Giants prior to the season, he was surrounded by high expectations.
It was not that the Giants and their fans demanded him to become a home run king, win the MVP award or lead the doormat Giants to the Korean Series Championship. But they wanted him to transcend one of the team's former players, Felix Jose, who was a local favorite in Busan at that time.
And now Garcia, a 32-year-old Mexican, has achieved that goal in one respect by becoming the first imported player to lead the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) All-Star voting.
The baseball body announced Monday the top-10 vote-getters for both the East and West teams for the All-Star Game, which will take place at Munhak Stadium in Incheon on Aug. 3.
Lefty-swinging Garcia, who played for 10 years in the big leagues with seven teams, including the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, received 678,557 votes. His total is the most in the history of the 27-year-old league, surpassing the former record of 341,244, set by Giants teammate Lee Dae-ho last year.
Garcia, an outfielder, ranks second in the KBO in homers (21) and RBIs (80), and his slugging percentage of .511 is the fourth best in the league.
Including Garcia, the fourth-place Giants produced nine starters for the East team, which is composed of players from the Doosan Bears, Samsung Lions, SK Wyverns and the Giants.
The East's only starter who isn't from the Giants is the Bears' Lee Jong-wook, who will take one of three outfield spots because the second-leading vote-getter among outfielders, Jung Soo-keun of the Giants, is suspension indefinitely.
The nine starting players for the Giants tie a record for the most by a single team. The Lions also produced nine in 2003.
Kia Tigers outfielder Lee Jong-beom will join the West lineup to become an All-Star for the 12th time, meaning the 37-year-old will tie the record for the most appearances with Lions designated hitter Yang Joon-hyuk and retired Lions player Lee Man-soo.
The Hanwah Eagles and the Tigers each had four players selected for the West team, while the LG Twins and Woori Heroes will each have one All-Star.
American outfielder Doug Clark, who plays for the Eagles, and Garcia are the only foreign players voted to start in the game.