Posted : 2014-07-16 17:13
Updated : 2014-07-16 20:36

Victim of cultural difference?

SK Wyverns outfielder Luke Scott was fired Wednesday after an argument with coach Lee Man-soo.

By Kim Tae-jong, Nam Hyun-woo

SK Wyverns outfielder Luke Scott was fired Wednesday following allegedly "disrespectful" behavior toward coach Lee Man-soo.

However, some insiders say Scott was the victim of cultural differences, rather than being insubordinate.

According to sources and reports, the former Tampa Bay Rays player appeared at Munhak Baseball Stadium in Incheon Tuesday, hours before his team's game against the Hanwha Eagles.

The 36-year-old was there to pick up his gear from the locker room after being put on a reserve team because of plantar fasciitis.

Scott and Lee got into a conversation and Scott eventually gestured and yelled at the coach, using expressions such as "liar" and "coward" to refer to him.

After Lee cut the conversation short and returned to his office, Scott turned to reporters at the stadium and started to blame Lee.

He reportedly said that he is the one who knows his physical condition best, and has had his own "routine" in managing it during his Major League Baseball career. But he argued that the team does not respect that, and just forces its ways on him.

Obviously, the Wyverns are not happy with Scott's behavior.

"It is not a subject to be tolerated," an official at SK said. "It seems he was disgruntled with being listed on the reserve team."

Big things were expected from Scott, who joined the team in December, because he was joining directly from an MLB team.

Before he joined the Wyverns, he played for the Rays for two years. He spent his career-best seasons with the Baltimore Orioles in 2008-2011, when he hit more than 20 homers in three consecutive campaigns. During his nine years in the MLB, he recorded 135 homers, 436 RBIs with a .258 average.

However, his time in the KBO has been a disappointment. In Korea, he has played 33 games for the Wyverns, with a .267 batting average and six homers.

He has been nagged by frequent injuries. He was on the injury list three times. The most recent injury came when he suffered the foot ailment just three games after recovering from a side injury.

Although a lot of fans have voiced their anger over the foreign player, the club's decision is also raising heated debate on how to interpret the incident -- as a player being disrespectful, or a misunderstanding related to cultural differences.

Lotte Giants pitcher Shane Youman, who took a very careful stance on the incident involving Scott and avoided directly commenting on it, said players' rights to express their feelings should be protected.

"I'm all for players expressing their feelings towards certain situations if they believe they have a right to. Not just foreign players, but Korean players as well," he said.

"Baseball has such a long season. Players and coaches are around each other all the time. Things will not always go smoothly. There may be arguments, or mix-ups here and there. At the end of the day, we all know who has the authority, but we are all men, and should be treated and respected as men."

Observers also argue that there needs to be proper measures to reduce misunderstandings due to cultural differences, as there have been an increasing number of foreign players in the domestic league.

"For the past few years, I have been wanting to see the KBO and their teams make sure all the players (Korean and import players) are educated about on-field/off-field cultural differences and similarities (including the locker room environment and decorum)," said Dan Kurtz, operator of the independent English website

He added such programs might prevent problems like what happened between Scott and SK, or at least alleviated them before things got out of hand.

관련 한글 기사

SK 스캇, 그라운드서 이만수 감독과 언쟁

프로야구 SK 와이번스의 용병 타자 루크 스캇(36)과 이만수(56) 감독이 그라운드에서 목소리를 높여 언쟁을 벌였다. 구단과 외국인 선수의 소통에 허점이 드러난 셈이다.

SK와 한화의 경기가 벌어진 15일 인천 문학구장.

경기 준비에 한창인 그라운드에 족저근막염으로 재활군으로 내려간 스캇이 사복 차림으로 모습을 드러냈다.

이만수 감독과 이야기를 나누던 스캇의 목소리가 점점 커졌고, 점차 격한 몸짓까지 등장하면서 대화는 언쟁이 됐다.

메이저리그에서 자신이 쌓은 9년의 경력 등을 강조하던 스캇의 입에서는 어느새 감독을 향해 '겁쟁이(Coward)', '거짓말쟁이(Liar)' 등의 과도한 표현까지 쏟아져나왔다.

뒤늦게 달려온 통역이 선수와 감독 사이를 떼어놓았지만, 스캇은 통역을 향해서도 '거짓말쟁이'라며 언성을 높였다.

이 감독도 더는 이야기하기 싫다는 제스처를 취하며 굳은 표정을 지으며 경기장 안으로 발걸음을 옮겼다.

구단 관계자와 이야기를 나눈 스캇은 훈련장으로 돌아가던 도중 취재진이 자신을 붙잡자 다시 한 번 격앙된 감정을 표출했다.

그는 '나에게는 내 몸을 관리하는 자신만의 관리법이 있다'면서 '그러나 구단에서는 이를 인정하지 않고 다른 방식에 맞출 것을 요구했다는 것이 진실'이라며 자신에 대한 구단의 관리에 깊은 불만을 드러냈다.

올 시즌 프로야구 용병 가운데 가장 화려한 메이저리그 경력을 자랑하는 스캇은 높던 기대에도 불구하고 잦은 부상 탓에 올 시즌 팀이 치른 81경기 중 33경기밖에 출전하지 못한 '계륵'으로 전락했다.

2군에서도 7월 8일 이후 경기에 나서지 못한 채 이제는 재활군에 내려가 있다.

시즌 초반만 해도 스캇이 건강을 되찾으면 팀 타선에 활력을 더할 것이라며 긍정적인 시선을 놓지 않던 이만수 감독도 최근 들어서는 '도대체 안 아픈 곳이 어디냐'며 자주 불만을 표현해 왔다.

이날 스캇의 발언에서 드러나듯, 선수 역시 자신을 대하는 코치진과 구단을 향해 불만이 쌓인 것으로 보인다.

SK 구단 관계자는 '스캇이 자신의 기용 문제에 불만을 표시한 것'이라며, 감독에게 일종의 '항명'을 한 데 대한 징계에 대해서는 '고민하고 있다'고 설명했다.

이날 스캇이 취재진에 불만을 쏟아내는 장면을 지켜본 외국인 투수 로스 울프는 '나도 그렇다'면서 '나는 불펜행에 대해 '알겠다(Yes)'고 말했다'며 거들었다.

울프는 이만수 감독의 불펜 강화 구상에 따라 후반기부터 선발에서 마무리로 보직을 바꿀 예정이다.

이 감독은 지난 12일 울프가 불펜행을 거부했다고 밝히며 아쉬움을 표현했다가, 이튿날 보직 전환을 받아들였다고 설명한 바 있다. (연합뉴스)

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