As the Samsung Lions prepare to bid farewell to veteran slugger Lee Seung-yuop after the 2017 Korea Baseball Organization season, his teammates would like nothing more than to send him off in style.
Team captain Kim Sang-su and third-year star Koo Ja-wook, in particular, are hoping Lee's last game will come in the postseason.
Kim Sang-su of the Samsung Lions smiles after a two-run single against the LG Twins during their Korea Baseball Organization preseason game at Daegu Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on March 16, 2017. (Yonhap)
The Lions were four consecutive titles from 2011 to 2014 but lost in the Korean Series to the Doosan Bears in 2015 and missed out on the postseason last season.
The Lions moved to the brand new Daegu Samsung Lions Park for the 2016 season, and Lee, the KBO's career leader with 443 home runs, has repeatedly said he'd like to play a postseason game at the new stadium before he wraps up his 15-year KBO career.
"We both grew up idolizing Lee Seung-yuop, and it's been an honor to play on the same team with him," Kim said at the annual KBO media day Monday. "And it already breaks my heart to think about his final season."
Kim said he felt terrible about letting both the fans and Lee down when the Lions finished in ninth place among 10 teams last year.
"He's been such a great player, and if he goes out without having played a playoff game at the new park, it'll be a huge shame," Kim added. "Every player has been training hard with the postseason on their mind."
Koo, who has taken over the first base duty from Lee, who is now mostly the designated hitter, said he is still so in awe of the veteran that he may even cry during Lee's retirement ceremony.
"I grew up watching him play and wanting to be a baseball player like him," the 24-year-old said of the 40-year-old teammate.
"I've learned so much from him. And I really want to play in the postseason with him at our ballpark." (Yonhap)