By Kang Seung-woo
The eight clubs in Korean baseball’s top league will begin preseason games from Saturday, the sports’ governing body said Wednesday.
According to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the defending Korean Series champion Samsung Lions will visit the LG Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Saturday while the SK Wyverns are to host the Kia Tigers at the Munhak Stadium in Incheon. The Hanwha Eagles will meet the Nexen Heroes in Cheongju and the Lotte Giants will take on the Doosan Bears in Busan.
This preseason features 14 games for each club, with a two-match series against each of their rivals through April 1.
The KBO is scheduled to open the 2012 regular season on April 7.
The Eagles will play their home games in Cheongju instead of Daejeon due to stadium repairs, while the number of exhibition games at other stadiums in Daegu, Gwangju and Mok-dong in Seoul has been minimized due to building work and other events scheduled.
Earlier this year, a match-fixing scandal that included two Twins pitchers rocked the local baseball circle, but the return to Korea of veteran players such as Park Chan-ho and Kim Tae-kyun for the Eagles, the Lions’ Lee Seung-yeop and the Heroes’ Kim Byung-hyun is expected to attract some seven million spectators, which would be a record-high for the 31-year-old local league.
In addition, fans are curious about how new managers Sun Dong-yeol of the Tigers, Kim Ki-tae of the Twins and Kim Jin-wook of the Bears will fare.
Previous preseason games indicate the results have little bearing on the regular season. Just six first-ranked teams have gone on to win the Korean Series title _ the Tigers in 1987 and 1993, the Giants in 1992, the Hyundai Unicorns, the predecessor of the Heroes in 1998, the Lions in 2002 and the Wyverns in 2007.
There have also been three clubs that finished bottom of the standings despite finishing at the top in the preseason.