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WBC roster is all sewn up and looking mighty good

Nov 11,2016
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The final roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) has been finalized, according to the sport’s professional governing body.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) held a meeting on Thursday at the KBO headquarters in Seoul to narrow down the 50-man provisional roster to the 28-man final roster. Four Korean Major Leaguers were included in the roster, Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers, Kim Hyun-soo of the Baltimore Orioles, Kang Jung-ho of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Lee Dae-ho of the Seattle Mariners.

One of the hot potatoes in the lead up to Thursday’s meeting was the potential inclusion of Oh Seung-hwan, the closer for the Saint Louis Cardinals who locked down six wins, three losses and 19 saves while collecting a 1.92 earned run average in his rookie season. Oh, who started out the season as a setup man, took up the closing assignment after All-Star closer Trevor Rosenthal was removed from the position in late June when his earned run average rose to 5.63. Before joining the Majors, the righty was fined by a Korean court after illegally gambling overseas. He also received a 72-game ban by the KBO, which would go into effect if Oh returns to the domestic league. Manager Kim In-sik considered including Oh as it would greatly bolster the team’s pitching. But the scandal has eventually led his exclusion from the team.

Other than Oh, Park Byung-ho of the Minnesota Twins was also excluded from the roster as he is under recuperation from a season-ending injury.

The first round of the WBC will be played here in Korea at Gocheok Sky Dome next March. Korea, who is in Pool B, will host Israel on March 6, subsequently meeting the Netherlands on March 7 and Chinese Taipei on March 9 in the same venue. The winner and runner-up from the first round will advance to the next round.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]