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Natl. baseball team for WBC to meet for first time Monday

Lee Kang-chul, manager of the South Korean national baseball team, speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on last Thursday, before departing for Australia on a scouting trip in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. (Yonhap)
Lee Kang-chul, manager of the South Korean national baseball team, speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on last Thursday, before departing for Australia on a scouting trip in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. (Yonhap)

Players and coaching staff of the national baseball team for this year's World Baseball Classic will hold their first meeting next Monday in Seoul.

The Korea Baseball Organization said Wednesday manager Lee Kang-chul and players currently training in South Korea will gather at a Seoul hotel for an orientation and a press conference. They will pick up their uniforms and go over tournament rules, among other things.

Players have been asked to arrive by 11 a.m. Monday. Lee and four players, to be named later, will attend the press conference at 2:30 p.m., the KBO said.

A few members of the 30-man national team, unveiled by Lee a week ago, are working out on their own in the United States.

Many of the veterans, though, are in South Korea. Lee could name his captain during Monday's meeting.

South Korea is in Pool B against Japan, Australia, China and the Czech Republic. The top two teams from the group after round robin action will advance to the quarterfinals. Pool B teams will play all of their preliminary games and quarterfinal games at Tokyo Dome. The semifinals and the final will take place at LoanDepot Park in Miami, home of the Miami Marlins.

The national team will run training camp in Tucson, Arizona, from Feb. 13 to 28. They will return home on March 1 and train here for a couple more days, before flying to Osaka on March 4.

South Korea is scheduled to play Nippon Professional Baseball clubs for tuneups: the Orix Buffaloes on March 6 and then the Hanshin Tigers on March 7, both at Osaka Dome.

South Korea's first WBC game is against Australia on March 9.

South Korea will try to get out of the opening round for the first time since 2009. The country finished third at the inaugural tournament in 2006 and then lost to Japan in the final in 2009. In both 2013 and 2017, however, South Korea crashed out of the first round.

The 30-man team features three major leaguers: Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres, Choi Ji-man of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tommy Edman of the St. Louis Cardinals, born in Michigan to a Korean mother and an American father. Edman is the first half-Korean to play for South Korea.

Lee is also awaiting the final word from the Pirates on Choi's availability, following the first baseman's elbow surgery in November. (Yonhap)

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