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LG Twins pitcher faces grilling for game-fixing

A second active professional baseball pitcher is to face questioning Friday over fixing allegations, officials here said.

Park Hyun-jun, a right-hander for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization, appeared before prosecutors in Daegu, a metropolitan city some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Park is under suspicion of accepting bribes in return for trying to fix baseball games last season.

His teammate, pitcher Kim Seong-hyun, was put under arrest Thursday for his alleged connection in the fixing scandal. He was charged with taking kickbacks from a gambling broker and deliberating issuing first-inning walks last year.

Park, 25, has been claiming innocence since his name first surfaced in the fast-spreading baseball fixing rumors last month.

He led the Twins with 13 wins in 2011, accounting for nearly a quarter of the team’s victories.

A former college baseball player was recently arrested for allegedly introducing Kim and Park to a broker to aid in match fixing schemes. The ex-player has also testified that more games have been fixed than what prosecutors initially suspected.

Park and Kim are suspected of having taken part in “spot fixing,” an activity where particular plays, such as first-inning walks by a starter, are fixed. Spot fixing is considered more difficult to detect than match fixing attempts, since fixed plays are often seemingly inconsequential plays with little impact on the outcome of the game.

The government recently announced it will take a “zero-tolerance” approach against match fixing and toughened penalties for offending players, coaches and teams.

The ongoing investigation has dealt a major blow to the KBO, which has enjoyed an unprecedented wave of popularity in recent seasons. The 2012 season starts on April 7. (Yonhap News)