Before Saturday, no one had ever thought to mention South Korea’s Kim Si Jin in the same breath with Nolan Ryan and Joaquin Andujar.
But before Saturday, Kim Si Jin had never beaned Pedro Guerrero, either. It certainly couldn’t have been what Dodger owner Peter O’Malley had in mind when the Dodger organization invited the Samsung Lions from South Korea to train here for two weeks.
International good will almost went down for the 10-count after Guerrero went down on a second-inning pitch from Kim. The ball caromed off Guerrero’s helmet and carried 10 rows into the third-base seats at Holman Stadium.
Guerrero got up, shook his head as if clearing it, then trotted down to first base.
“He’s got a helmet that was broken in by Nolan Ryan. That was nothin,’ ” Dodger Vice President Al Campanis said with a laugh afterward.
Easy for Campanis to say.
Guerrero said: “When they hit you in the head, it’s bad, no matter what they’re throwing.”
Guerrero should know. He now has been beaned by a Dominican (Andujar) in the Dominican Republic, a Texan (Ryan) in Los Angeles and a South Korean in Florida. That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, although Guerrero said Saturday’s pitch glanced off the side of his helmet, sparing him graver consequences.
Kim’s control didn’t get much better. His first pitch to the next batter, Mike Scioscia, almost sawed off the Dodger catcher at the knees. Two batters later, Greg Brock took one in the left leg.
“I think the Koreans were real nervous,” Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said.
By the time Jerry Reuss came to the plate, Kim’s composure had improved, but not his fastball. Reuss sent a 3-and-1 pitch 400 feet onto the embankment in left-center field for a three-run home run, the crusher in the Dodgers’ 7-0 victory in their 1985 exhibition debut.
The outcome confirmed the worst suspicions of Gen. Jyong Chul Suh, commissioner of baseball in South Korea.
Before the game, Jyong had mentioned that five reporters from South Korea were at the game. Samsung, the business group that owns the Lions, also owns one of the newspapers represented. Asked if a Lion win over the Dodgers would make for banner headlines in Seoul, Jyong smiled and shook his head.
“I wish it could be possible,” he said. “But I don’t believe it will happen.”
An understandable opinion. The Korean Professional Baseball League, after all, is only three years old, and the Lions are the first team from the league to train in the United States. Red Adams, who with two other Dodger instructors, Chico Fernandez and Leo Posada, has been assigned to work with Samsung, estimated that the Lions probably are the equivalent of a Double-A team.
Reuss, asked if he concurred, said: “It’s been 17 or 18 years since I’ve been in Double-A, so it’s best left to the instructors to make that judgment.”
Not that the South Koreans didn’t come without their stars, most notably catcher Lee Man Soo, who at 5-feet 8-inches tall and 165 pounds is known as the Hulk. Lee won the Korean League’s Triple Crown last season with a .340 average, 23 home runs and 80 runs batted in.
Lee, it was said, would arise each day at dawn for batting practice. “He takes 200 swings before breakfast every day,” Jyong said. “If he doesn’t take about a thousand swings a day, he feels he didn’t work.”
Lee walked his first time at bat, then went hitless in his last two trips. His teammates managed just two hits in all and threatened to score only in the sixth when Dodger nonroster pitcher Rob Rowen walked four batters in a row, threw a wild pitch and balked. But one South Korean runner was caught stealing and Bobby Castillo got the last out on a fly ball, leaving the bases loaded.
Jyong, asked if there were any Dodgers he’d like to have, said: “Everybody.
“But,” he added, “Mr. Campanis would shoot me.”
Hospitality goes only so far.
Dodger Notes Jerry Reuss pitched three shutout innings, allowing just one hit, striking out one and walking one, and said he could have gone another inning. “Still a long way to go,” he said, “but that will be taken care of by time and innings. It was nice to go out there with no pain in the feet and elbow.” The left-hander made only 15 starts in 1984 after elbow surgery, then had surgery to remove bone spurs in both heels last October . . . Catcher Mike Scioscia, on Reuss: “His ball exploded. The only thing that was lacking was his location wasn’t as refined as he’d like it to be. Jerry’s such a perfectionist.” . . . Besides taking a pitch in the head, Pedro Guerrero doubled, stole a base (sliding in feet-first instead of his usual head-first) and handled a couple of chances at third. “I feel great,” he said. Even at third? “Everywhere,” he answered. . . . Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth threw out one of two “first” balls (South Korean Commissioner Gen. Jyong Chul Suh threw out the other) and fired it into Korean catcher Lee Man Soo. Ueberroth also held a poolside press conference after the game and reiterated that his role in the current player-owner negotiations was “to keep the environment so collective bargaining could go on.” Ueberroth was effusive in his praise of player union head Donald Fehr, whom Ueberroth called “the up-and-coming superstar in labor negotiations.” To be fair, Ueberroth also had kind words for the owners’ negotiators as well, calling counsel Barry Rona “bright as a tack.” Said Ueberroth: “If I do my job correctly, and (the negotiations) don’t get off track, there won’t be a strike.” Addressing the issue of drugs in baseball, Ueberroth said that three or four players from each team have been recruited to film anti-drug ads but said he would not comment on specific cases, like Claudell Washington’s, before they are resolved in court. . . . Mike Marshall did not play Saturday; his left elbow is still bruised after being struck by a Larry White pitch in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Marshall did take batting practice, however. . . . Pitcher Orel Hershiser, who had been suffering from a stomach virus, worked out lightly Saturday. . . . Highly touted prospect Ralph Bryant, who hit 31 home runs in San Antonio last summer, struck out in his only plate appearance. . . . The Dodgers play Cincinnati in their Grapefruit League opener here today. Channel 11 will televise the exhibition game, beginning at 10:30 a.m.