PEORIA-- The only two major leaguers for South Korea at the World Baseball Classic, Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres and Tommy Edman of the St. Louis Cardinals, will join the national team earlier than expected next month.
The two players are in spring training with their respective clubs, while the rest of the national team are gearing up for the WBC in Tucson, Arizona.
The South Korean team is scheduled to travel back home on March 1 and train in Seoul for a couple of days before flying to Osaka to get ready for pre-WBC exhibition games there. It was initially thought Kim would first be available for a scrimmage against the SSG Landers of the Korea Baseball Organization in Seoul on March 3, while Edman wouldn't join South Korea until March 4 in Osaka.
Speaking to South Korean media in Peoria, Arizona, on Tuesday, Kim said, "I understand I am scheduled to arrive in South Korea in the afternoon on March 1."
A national team staffer confirmed that Kim is set to arrive in South Korea on March 1, though his exact itinerary hasn't been determined. The official added Edman is also scheduled to travel to South Korea on the same day and is trying to find his ticket for that day.
Kim and Edman will be the starting middle infielders for South Korea. Kim was the 2022 National League Gold Glove finalist at shortstop, and Edman won the award at second base in 2021.
Missing the two stellar defenders at the start of camp has been a source of concern for the national team. Manager Lee Kang-chul had hoped the double play partners would get as many reps together as possible in the buildup to the tournament.
With the slight change in the schedule, Lee will have Kim and Edman for some extra days.
After playing the Landers in Seoul, the national team will take on two Japanese clubs in Osaka in official pre-WBC exhibition games: the Orix Buffaloes on March 6 and the Hanshin Tigers on March 7.
South Korea's first Pool B game at the WBC is against Australia on March 9. Lee's team will also face Japan, the Czech Republic and China.
All Pool B games are going to be at Tokyo Dome.
The top two teams after round-robin play will advance to the quarterfinals. For Pool B contestants, those games will also be at Tokyo Dome.
The semifinals and the final of this 20-team tournament will be at LoanDepot Park in Miami, home of the Miami Marlins.
Born to a Korean mother and an American father, Edman is the first half-Korean player to represent South Korea at an international baseball competition. Under the WBC's loose set of eligibility rules, players are allowed to play for the country of birth for one of their parents, even if they themselves weren't born there. (Yonhap)