Playing in his first South Korean baseball final in a decade this week, the Samsung Lions' first baseman Lee Seung-yeop has vowed not to repeat the same mistakes from his last appearance.
The Lions will host the SK Wyverns at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Daegu Baseball Stadium here to start the best-of-seven Korean Series, the championship stage for the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). Lee, who returned to Samsung this year after eight seasons in Japan, is playing in his first Korean Series since 2002.
Lee, 36, said he can't wait for the Korean Series to start.
"I am well-rested, and so conditioning shouldn't be a problem," the 36-year-old said after wrapping up his practice late Tuesday. The Lions, by virtue of having the best regular season record, earned the bye to the Korean Series and haven't played a game since Oct. 6, the final day of the regular season.
"I know guys batting in the middle of the order won't get a lot of pitches to hit in the playoffs," Lee said. "So it won't be easy to get extra base hits. But I will try to pound on the few opportunities that I get."
Lee had been the face of the Lions' franchise before leaving for Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in 2004. Following an up-and-down career there, Lee returned to the Lions and batted .307 with 21 home runs and 85 runs batted in (RBI), all second-best marks on a team that had the highest team batting average and scored the most runs in the league.
He also played in 126 of the team's 133 games this year, and knee and shoulder pains slowed him down late in the season.
Lee stressed that he's feeling just fine.
"I've done well since I came back home," he said. "And I want to cap off the season by winning the championship."
Lee last won the title with Samsung in 2002. The Lions defeated the LG Twins in six games then, and the clinching game had one of the most dramatic finishes in the league history.
With the Lions down 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Lee hit a three-run home run to tie the game. Ma Hae-young, the next batter, belted the walk-off solo shot for a 10-9 victory.
The thrilling win masked Lee's struggles at the plate in the series. He was only 3-for-21 in those six games with one home run and four RBI.
Lee recalled that his swing had gotten too long while he was trying to lead the league in home runs in the regular season, saying it affected his balance during the playoffs.
"I will not make the same mistakes from 10 years ago," he said. "I will shorten my swing so that I can put up good numbers and help the team win the championship at the same time. It will be the perfect scenario." (Yonhap)