Samsung Lions to keep suspected gamblers off KBO playoff roster

October 20, 2015
(Yonhap)

(Yonhap)

DAEGU (Yonhap) — The reigning South Korean baseball champion Samsung Lions announced Tuesday they will keep suspected gamblers off their postseason roster, six days before the start of their title defense.

The Lions, which have won the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) crown in each of the past four years, said the players will not be with the club when the championship final, Korean Series, begins next Monday.

“I’d like to issue a sincere apology to our fans for this unsavory incident,” team president Kim In said at Daegu Stadium, the Lions’ home park, in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. “Even though no formal investigation is yet under way and no one has been charged, we have decided to exclude suspected players from our Korean Series roster. We will fully cooperate with the authorities as necessary.”

The Lions have earned the bye to the Korean Series by virtue of winning the pennant. No KBO team has won five straight Korean Series in the league’s 33-year history. The deadline to submit the 28-man Korean Series roster is Sunday.

Kim declined to identify the players because they have not been formally charged, and didn’t disclose exactly how many players will be kept off for the championship series, though it will be self-explanatory when the roster is announced Sunday.

Sources said, however, three “key” pitchers will be kept off the Korean Series roster. They were scheduled to appear in an intrasquad game held earlier in the day at Daegu Stadium. They also warmed up before the game but after the club made the decision not to put them on the Korean Series roster, they didn’t take the mound.

A South Korean television report claimed last Thursday that three Samsung players were facing investigation over illegal gambling charges. Two days later, Seoul police said they were “internally investigating” two of the players for allegedly gambling away millions in Macao. Prosecutors, on the other hand, have said they have no immediate plan to launch a probe.

The Lions had been under pressure to take their own action on the suspected players, who the team says have claimed their innocence. The Lions had previously maintained that they wouldn’t make roster moves before the suspected players were formally charged or convicted, until Kim made the announcement.

Manager Ryu Joong-il, who has guided the team to the last four championships, said the situation was weighing heavily on him.

“It’s just that much more difficult to handle because it’s happening before the Korean Series,” Ryu said. “I just hope the players will all be cleared of charges in the end.”

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