UPDATE : 2018.9.22 SAT 05:13
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No rest for struggling S. Korean bats ahead of World Baseball Classic

There was no rest for the ice-cold South Korean bats Friday, with the World Baseball Classic (WBC) just three days away in the nation's capital.

South Korea will host the first round action for Pool A at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul and will open the competition against Israel at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The Netherlands and Chinese Taipei will be up next on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, and the top two nations from the round-robin play will reach the second round in Tokyo.

South Korea has played a half-dozen practice games over the past several weeks, but after defeating Cuba and Australia in three consecutive games, the national team fell to Sangmu, a domestic minor league club made up of conscripted players, 4-1 in a seven-inning game Thursday.

National team manager Kim In-sik hastily scheduled batting and fielding practices for Friday, which was supposed to be an off day for his players. The position players worked out for about two hours starting at 10 a.m. at the dome.

"We came here because we didn't have a batting practice (Thursday)," Kim said. "We can't afford to take a rest, with our hitters so out of sync."

Even in its victories, South Korea hasn't been getting much production from the heart of its order. Choi Hyoung-woo, runner-up in the MVP voting in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) last year, hasn't had a hit in 17 at-bats in six games. He was inserted in the cleanup spot early but was moved down to the No. 5 hole Thursday.

South Korean national baseball player Kim Tae-kyun returns to the dugout after a batting practice ahead of the World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

Lee Dae-ho, former Seattle Mariners first baseman, traded spots with Choi and batted cleanup Thursday, and he drove in South Korea's only run of the game with a double.

Kim Tae-kyun, a KBO All-Star who has been the No. 3 hitter, has done his share, going 4-for-8 with four walks in two games against Cuba and one against Australia.

According to the manager, though, Kim is one of several players who asked coaches to schedule extra batting sessions outside the dome Saturday.

The manager vetoed the idea, saying it's still relatively chilly outdoors, and he was worried about possible injuries to his players. (Yonhap)

Sung Min Kim  edt@koreapost.com

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