South Korea is back in San Diego looking to settle some unfinished business.
South Korea returns to PETCO Park to face Mexico in the second round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic on Sunday, hoping to erase the memories of its loss to Japan on the same field in the 2006 WBC semifinal round.
“Three years ago, we lost to Japan,” South Korea manager Kim In Sik said. “I can remember it very well. But in baseball, sometimes you can lose by a little but you can also lose by a lot.”
South Korea moves into the second round after going 3-1 in its first-round games and beating Japan 1-0 in the Pool A final. Mexico, Cuba and Japan are the other members of the four-team pool.
The Koreans will get a strong first challenge in Mexico, which is the tournament’s highest scoring team with 41 runs in four games. The Mexicans, who also lead the tournament with 12 home runs, have scored seven or more runs three times.
Mexico first baseman and San Diego Padres star Adrian Gonzalez, who calls PETCO Park home during the MLB season, cautioned that the venue will make high scoring games an exception rather then the rule.
“From a pitcher’s standpoint, the breaking pitches are going to break more, the fly balls aren’t going to carry out of the ballpark,” Gonzalez said. “We played a lot of 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-run games, where they’re going to be five-, six-, seven-run games (here).
“For hitters, it’s just going to be not to try and hit home runs or fly balls. Try to hit more ground balls and line drives. I think this park benefits us more than the Mexico stadium did. So I think we’re going to do a better job here as a team.”
South Korea will be hoping its own major league player, Cleveland Indians outfielder Choo Shin Soo, is available. Injuries limited the Korean star to the role of designated hitter in the first round.
“I’m trying to improve my condition,” Choo said. “I’ve been trying so hard, but it’s not coming along as fast as I want it to.”
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