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March 2, 2009

Shin-Soo Choo

Kwang Hyun-Kim

In-Sik Kim


Q. You arrived from Hawaii yesterday, and you have three days to go till the first game, the opening game. What is in your mind right now, Mr. Kim, Skipper?
IN-SIK KIM: The first WBC back in 2006, we had spring training in Hukoka (ph). But this time we had spring training session in Hawaii, due to the weather conditions changing. That's sort of a worrying thing to me.
SHIN-SOO CHOO: Last time I played for the Korean Team, it was eight years ago, so it is good for me to be representing Korea. And I am feeling that I am honored to play for a national team in my own country, and this is going to be a great experience to me representing my country, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
KWANG HYUN-KIM: In my own club, SK Club, has a bunch of coaches from Japan, and SK Lions is having spring training in Koji, Japan, so I have kind of got used to Japanese weather. This is a domed stadium, and I'm not worried about any weather condition in Tokyo. We are ready for the best condition to perform the game.

Q. My next question is about the WBC, you will play against the Chinese Taipei, China and Japan here in Tokyo. By looking at the past international tournament, I think probably the biggest competitor is Japan. What is your impression about Team Japan, and who are the players that you are particularly paying attention to?
IN-SIK KIM: I don't think we can say that we have a rivalry. However, our Japan National Team is very good, and one of the stronger teams is the Japan National Team.
However, we cannot really ignore China and Chinese Taipei. Japan has a good team and they have a lineup of great players. They have great pitchers. They have great batters. They have global, well-known batters like Ichiro, Mr. Fukudome, and also they really have developed the best players coming out from Japan, such as Mr. Ogasawara.
So we are pressured, actually, because of the great names they have as part of the Japan National Team, and we do have that Japan is one of the strongest opponents for us in global baseball world.

Q. And also I would like to hear from both players, too, about the same question.
SHIN-SOO CHOO: Yes, for them to be named as the national team members, meaning that they are great players; and also it's the same for the south Korean Team and all of the other countries. Rather than having a couple of great players, baseball is team play.
So rather than paying attention to just a few number of players, I think we have to pay attention to the entire team, and we need to give it all and do our best, so that is the most important thing for us.
KWANG-HYUN KIM: I agree with him. Rather than saying which team is the best, better than others, I think it is very important for us to do our best.
And our Japanese team has a good left-handed batters. We have to be prepared for that. So we have studied Japanese left-handed hitters.

Q. Now the question for the Skipper. Likely the international matches, the national team of Korea has been beating Team Japan, especially late innings, you have a lot of success. What is the key to succeed?
IN-SIK KIM: Well, I don't know. I'm not for sure that we can say we are a good competitor, against Japan especially.
But throughout the international matches against Japan, the result is our players are doing well, and as a matter of result, we won. But baseball is not supposed to evaluate on a couple of games. But the fact is, our players are more hustling when are we face against Japan. For a long time, Korean Team has been pushed by team Japan.
But probably eight, nine years ago, ever since eight, nine years, the team Korea has won many times than ten years ago. The global level -- that is proof that the Korean Team has improved, Korean baseball has improved, that is proof.
The quality of baseball has also improved, so we have no fear against Japan if we won.

Q. Now, a question for Mr. Choo. You are representing as a Major League Baseball player, and a lot of your country players are looking forward to your good performance.
SHIN-SOO CHOO: Yes, I am the only Major League player of my team. And I feel a bit of pressure, yes, but I trust my teammate. And I heard a lot of news, even though I am in the States, so I have good preparations.
When I joined my national team, I was kind of surprised that the Korean Team has better powers and better skills than I was expecting, so I'm glad to feel that.
I am trying to be a part of my national team as one of the players and try to do our best and try to get a win.

Q. I have a question to Mr. Kim. You pitched against Japan twice at the Beijing Olympics and you won twice. So if you are going -- there is a possibility that you will pitch against Japan again for this WBC Asian round. Can you tell me how you feel about that? Do you feel anything special about pitching against Japan?
KWANG-HYUN KIM: If I may going to pitch against Japan; I don't like to lose. So therefore, I will pitch to win.
But I have a number of pitches, there is a pitching limit, so I will try my best to pitch within the limit and do the pitches within the limit.
My first goal is to be confident when I throw the pitch.

Q. Now, the Tokyo round is going to be starting within three days, and if you can explain your strategy, your game plan, especially for the first two games, are you trying to get a win or is it a must-win game for you?
KWANG-HYUN KIM: Yes, this tournament has two complications that gave me a headache. I don't think we can play baseball within our game plan. Sometimes baseball goes a funny way; sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, that's baseball.
The important thing is -- the important thing is, we have to make the right decision at a certain situation each time, and at last, I am asking -- I am planning to save our best pitcher for the last.

Q. Now, I think our people are expecting for you to replace or to do as better or as good as Mr. Wei, and you play against Chinese Taipei -- you might pitch against the Chinese Taipei, what do you think about that?
SHIN-SOO CHOO: As I answered earlier, baseball is a team; I am not the only player playing baseball. So every person has to do his job, the task and responsibility that he is given. And Mr. Wei played that way before. That's why he made our team a big success.
And in baseball, it is very difficult not to make mistakes all the time. However, we have to play for the team. When we have to hit, we have to hit is. And when you have to pitch, you have to pitch. Even if I strike out, if the team can support me, we can win. And I like to do what I do usually in another state, and I need the team's support.

Q. The Japanese team has a lot of scouting systems and we heard that the Japanese scout system is more advanced than ours. Are you worried about that?
KWANG-HYUN KIM: Well, yes, I am not as good as the Japanese media is thinking. So I would say I appreciate it to search my pitching.
As a pitcher, whenever I face against, we are going to get a win. We play for the win, no matter what -- even I don't pitch on the mound, I am cheering for my team in the dugout. We still have a kind of slight jet-lag feeling due to travel from Hawaii, but we still have three days' rest. We are a bit lacking of sleep time, but we are fine.

Q. Now, did you see Yomiuri Giants game? I don't know if that was intentional, however they had more number of left-handed pitchers. Maybe that was how they wanted to prepare the team national to play against you. Now, you have the exhibition match against the Yomiuri Giants, as well. What will be your game plan when you play against the Yomiuri Giants, and what will you be your pitchers' rotation?
IN-SIK KIM: Of course, that's how I thought, and also, we need to be adjusted and we had the spring training in Hawaii and our hitters are improving.
And I actually have two pitchers who are not in 100% condition, so that is something I'm concerned about.
And the Japanese National Team used, and just like they played against Yomiuri Giants, we would like to make sure that the exhibition matches will help us to be at 100% condition. And I would like to exploit the opportunity to play against two different teams before the WBC so that we can prepare ourselves well.
Now, my impression about the exhibition game does not really decide my impression about the Japanese national team. That was only one game. However, yes, I did feel that Japanese team has a great lineup of pitchers.
In terms of offense, they have Ichiro; they have Mr. Aoki, but they didn't get to the base. And they have some problems right now, but they had difficulty making runs.
So maybe that's because these important players didn't hit well. However, that doesn't really decide the capability of the Japan National Team. As long as they explode and they do well when the actual WBC opens, that's what it means to them.

Q. You played with the Seattle Mariners and you played with Ichiro, and you played against Ichiro; if you have any comments, please, to us, about Ichiro, playing against and with.
SHIN-SOO CHOO: Yes, back in the States, while I played for Seattle, yes, he was my competitor. And he is a real superstar back in the U.S.
I am an outfielder and I am very honored to be called a competitor, but I don't play against Ichiro. We are playing baseball games and my goal is to get wins against team Japan, and that's how I feel that is influencing things.

Q. Now, Mr. Lim Chang-Yong from the Yakult Swallows is injured from the last game he played. Do you think he will be recovered to play for this round?
IN-SIK KIM: Mr. Lim Chang-Yong's injury was the information that I got for the first time yesterday at the airport. I came back to the hotel and I saw him, he actually will be checked out at the hospital today and we will hear from him today.
Immediately after the injury, he went to the hospital, and that was a contusion only and he doesn't have any problem with his bones. He actually is at the hospital and I am anxious to hear the diagnosis or the doctor's opinion, and I will know that very soon.

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