DAEGU (Yonhap News) ― With one swing of the bat Wednesday night, Lee Seung-yeop, a veteran slugger with the Samsung Lions in the Korea Baseball Organization, sent an emphatic message across the league: Look out, pitchers. Here comes the “Lion King.”
Lee, 36, belted his first home run of the 2013 season against the Hanwha Eagles, as his three-run shot off Denny Bautista helped the Lions win the game 4-0 at home here in Daegu. This was the Lions’ sixth game of the season.
Lee finally resumed his chase for the KBO record for career home runs. Yang Joon-hyuk, a retired outfielder and former teammate of Lee’s on Samsung, holds the mark with 351. Lee is now at 346.
Samsung’s Lee Seung-yeop (Yonhap News)
Long known as a slow starter, Lee again stumbled out of the gate this year. He had been 2 for 23 before the home run, and had gone hitless in his previous 12 at-bats.
But that one home run might have been just what Lee needed to get the ball rolling, because historically he has heated up in May and beyond.
Lee owns the KBO’s single-season record with 56 home runs, set in 2003. Four years earlier, he became the first KBO player to hit more than 50 homers, as he ended the year with 54.
After the game Wednesday, Lee said he was trying not to think too much when he stepped up to the plate, saying he didn’t expect to hit it out of the park.
“I’d been playing really poorly but I always had confidence,” Lee said. “If you don’t have confidence in yourself as a professional athlete, then your career is over.”