January 12, 2017 11:22
Oh Seung-hwan, a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, has been added to the Korean national baseball team for the World Baseball Classic despite controversy over his gambling scandal.
National team manager Kim In-sik told reporters on Wednesday the team decided to select Oh as a closer because "we absolutely need him, especially when pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun is out due to an operation on his elbow."
This will likely reignite the controversy over the selection.
Oh and Lim Chang-yong of the Kia Tigers were fined W10 million in January last year for illegal overseas gambling, and they were banned from half a season in the Korea Baseball Organization, but Lim was already included in the squad in October while Oh was not (US$1=W1,196). The KBO then explained that was because Oh has not served his suspension as he is playing in the U.S.
Oh's addition comes as some of the team's finest players have to withdraw. Among them are Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers and Kim Hyun-soo of the Baltimore Orioles.
"The coaching staff felt that we need Oh as we will not have some top players," Kim said.
"The Rangers notified us on Tuesday that they can't send Choo to the WBC because they do not want to expose him to possible injuries," Kim added. "For Kim Hyun-soo, it was not about whether his club agreed or not. His position on the team is still not rock solid, so it would be difficult for him to insist on playing in the WBC."
The fourth WBC will take place from March 6 to 23 with 16 teams. Korea is in the same group with Israel, the Netherlands and Taiwan.
The first round for the group will take place at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul between March 6 and 10, and the top two teams will advance to the next round, which will take place in Japan.
The semifinals will take place on March 21, and the final on March 23 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
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