Reigning S. Korean baseball champions name new manager

November 13, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) — The 2018 South Korean baseball champions SK Wyverns named a new manager on Tuesday, only hours after winning their first title in eight years.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club announced general manager Yeom Kyung-yup will come down from the front office to take the helm on the bench, replacing outgoing skipper Trey Hillman.

This file photo provided by the SK Wyverns baseball club on Nov. 13, 2018, shows Yeom Kyung-yup, who was named the team's new manager earlier in the day. (Yonhap)

This file photo provided by the SK Wyverns baseball club on Nov. 13, 2018, shows Yeom Kyung-yup, who was named the team’s new manager earlier in the day. (Yonhap)

The Wyverns signed Yeom to a three-year deal worth 700 million won (US$615,970) per year and also gave him a signing bonus of 400 million won.

Hillman spent two seasons with the Wyverns and guided them to the Korean Series championship over the Doosan Bears — punctuating their title run with a 5-4 win in 13 innings in Game 6 on Monday. Hillman announced in October, just before the end of the regular season, that he won’t be returning as the Wyverns’ manager next year because he wants to spend more time with his family in the United States.

In comes Yeom, who previously managed another KBO club, the Nexen Heroes, from 2013 to 2016 and went to the postseason in all four seasons. Yeom compiled a 305-253-6 (wins-losses-ties) record with the Heroes, which lost to the Samsung Lions in the 2014 Korean Series.

Yeom, 50, abruptly resigned from the Heroes job moments after being eliminated by the LG Twins in the first round of the playoffs in 2016. Then in January 2017, Yeom became the Wyverns’ general manager.

With Yeom in the front office and Hillman in the dugout, the Wyverns made it to the wild card game in 2017 and lost to the NC Dinos. Then in 2018, the Wyverns finished second in the regular season at 78-65-1, 14.5 games behind the Bears, but toppled the regular season champions in six games in the Korean Series.

Yeom said he’s learned a great deal from Hillman, and the two years as the general manager afforded him a new perspective on the game.

“I’ve always wanted to become a leader who can help the club, the players and the coaching staff,” Yeom said in a statement released by the Wyverns. “I feel some pressure (replacing Hillman) but a manager always has to produce results. And it’s also important to show our fans a proper process.”

The Wyverns enjoyed a dynasty run earlier in the millennium, reaching every Korean Series from 2007 to 2012 and capturing championships in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Yeom said he was confident a new dynasty can be established, as long as the team can maximize its strength — the Wyverns have been the KBO’s best best home run-hitting club in the past two years — and address its weaknesses.