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SK Wyverns says manager Lee won’t be sacked

The SK Wyverns of South Korea’s top professional baseball league on Thursday denied rumors that it would fire manager Lee Man-soo after the team’s lackluster season.

An unnamed official from the Wyverns said that the team would retain its contract with Lee, which will expire after the 2014 season. The official added that the team’s coaching staff would undergo a reshuffle.

Earlier in the day, local media reported that a “high ranking official” of the Wyverns said Lee might be dismissed as his team finished the 2013 Korea Baseball Organization season with its worst record since 2006.

SK wrapped up the season in sixth place with 62 wins, 63 losses and three draws, an abysmal performance given that it had won three championships in six straight trips to the Korean Series from 2007 to 2012.

Despite leading his team to back-to-back appearances in the finals in 2011 and 2012, many fans have expressed doubts about Lee’s ability to actually bring home a title. Lee was often belittled in comparison to his predecessor Kim Sung-keun, known as a “baseball god” among Korean fans.

Upon taking the helm of a meager sub-.500 team in 2006, Kim led the Wyverns to a championship the very next season, and to two more titles in three subsequent seasons. Kim’s tenure abruptly ended in the middle of 2011 season after supposed strife with the team’s management.

Some have even argued that Lee’s recent success was merely a product of Kim’s legacy, who built a perennial contender out of the Wyverns before he left. The argument grew stronger as SK continued to plummet toward the bottom of the standings in the course of the season.

By Yoon Min-sik