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Hot-hitting backup draws DH assignment vs. Australian lefty in 1st game

March 9, 2023 - 09:25 By Yonhap
Lars Nootbaar of Japan (right) celebrates an RBI single against the Hanshin Tigers during an exhibition game for the World Baseball Classic at Kyocera Dome Osaka in Osaka on Monday. (Yonhap)

TOKYO -- After wielding a hot bat in exhibitions and scrimmages, South Korean backup outfielder Park Kun-woo will be the designated hitter in the team's opening game of the World Baseball Classic against Australia on Thursday.

Park will bat sixth for South Korea against left-handed starter Jack O'Loughlin. The first pitch is set for 12:08 p.m. at Tokyo Dome.

Park was seen as a backup to right fielder Na Sung-bum, and he is the only right-handed batting outfielder on the 30-man squad.

Park has been one of South Korea's hottest hitters in the lead-up to the tournament. In an unofficial scrimmage last Friday, Park homered and hit two doubles for a four-RBI night. Then in two official exhibition games in Osaka earlier this week, Park batted a combined 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Another DH option, Kang Baek-ho, will start the game on the bench.

Second baseman Tommy Edman will lead things off, followed by fellow big leaguer and his double play partner at shortstop, Kim Ha-seong.

Center fielder Lee Jung-hoo will bat third. Right-handed first baseman Park Byung-ho will be cleanup, and left-handed left fielder Kim Hyun-soo will bat fifth, trading spots in the batting orders from the past three practice games.

Third baseman Choi Jeong will bat seventh after Park Kun-woo. Catcher Yang Eui-ji will bat eighth, and Na will hit from the ninth spot.

Sidearm pitcher Ko Young-pyo will start for South Korea. (Yonhap)