By Yoo Jee-ho
INCHEON, March 4 (Yonhap) — Among the South Korean position players competing in this month’s World Baseball Classic (WBC), no one has as much resume as outfielder Kim Hyun-soo.
Kim has represented the country nine times on the international stage, starting with the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Kim has also won three gold medals at the Asian Games and the 2015 Premier12 title. In 59 international matches , Kim hit .364 with 46 RBIs.
It’s no wonder his teammates turned to Kim, literally, when the coaching staff wanted to name the national team captain for the WBC.
“When it came time to vote captain, everyone looked at me,” Kim said with a smile at Incheon International Airport on Saturday, before flying to Osaka for the WBC exhibition matches. next week. The tournament begins in earnest for South Korea on Thursday in Tokyo.
“I don’t know if I have what it takes to be captain,” Kim said. “I happen to have this title next to my name. The national team is a collection of great players, and we will all do our best and deliver great results.
South Korea will try to get out of the first round for the first time since 2009, when they finished in second place ahead of Japan.
Kim, who was part of that 2009 team, said this year’s WBC added meaning on a personal level.
“Every international competition means a lot to me, but this one is particularly important because it could be my last,” said the 35-year-old outfielder. “We have worked hard so far and we will have a few more days in Japan before the tournament, which will give us plenty of time to be as prepared as possible.”
South Korean players have long named the opening game against Australia, scheduled for Thursday midday at the Tokyo Dome, as the most crucial of their tournament. Win this game and the path to the quarter-finals as one of the top two teams in Pool B will be pretty clear. Otherwise, South Korea will face an inescapable situation against world number one Japan on Friday night.
Kim said he and his teammates watched plenty of clips of the Aussie pitchers to get to grips with, although getting into the box in real life is a different story.
“The stress level isn’t as high when you study pitchers on film. Once we see them in person, we’ll feel a little more nervous,” Kim said. “So we will continue to study cinema and discuss among ourselves the best way to deal with these pitchers.”
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