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Veteran sluggers still going strong

Samsung Lions slugger Lee Seung-yeop is well on his way to putting another notch in his belt with 500 career home runs, after previously notching his 2,000th career hit last month.

After hitting a homer against Hanwha on Wednesday, Lee has 497 career home runs, with 159 in the Japanese league and 338 for the Lions, the only team he has ever played for in Korea. 
Samsung’s Lee Seung-yeop rounds the bases after his home run on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Samsung’s Lee Seung-yeop rounds the bases after his home run on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

Lee has played in 1,197 games in 10 seasons in Korea and 797 games during his eight seasons in Japan.

This season, the 35-year-old has 14 home runs, putting him second on the charts alongside Choi Jeong and behind Kang Jung-ho, who leads with 18 homers.

In the U.S., the 500 homer club has only 25 members. In Japan, there are only seven. Previously, membership into the 500 homer club usually guaranteed entry into the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame.

When Lee hits his 500th homer, he will be the first Korean to ever do so. In Korea, Yang Joon-hyuk holds the career record with 351.

Meanwhile, across the East Sea, Lee Dae-ho hit his first three-run home run of the season to help the Orix Buffaloes beat the Yokohama BayStars on Thursday.

This was also Lee’s first homer of the month, after being named the Pacific League’s MVP for the month of May.

In that month, Lee topped the charts with 28 hits and had a batting average of .322 with eight home runs.

With Lee’s last home run on May 28, the slugger was largely quiet throughout this month.

But with 11 home runs, the 29-year-old is still very much in the running to top the home run charts in his first season in Japan. Lee sits in second place in the Pacific League with Wily Pena and behind Nakamura Takeya, who has 13 homers.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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