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Kim follows Lee's path to Japan, Marines

by Jim Allen (Mar 20, 2010)

Kim Tae Kyun has become used to filling some fairly large-sized cleats.

In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Kim stood in at first base for South Korean legend Lee Seung Yeop and followed in Lee's footsteps by being named the tournament's best first baseman.

This spring, he's once more following Lee's lead by making the trek from a Korean Baseball Organization club to the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Both men are good fielders at first who can really drive the ball. Lee came to the Marines on the heels of a Korean-record 56 home runs, while Kim led the KBO in homers and slugging percentage as a 26-year-old with the Hanwha Eagles in 2008. He then set the WBC ablaze and was a unanimous selection to the all-tournament team after leading in four offensive categories, batting average (.345), homers (3), runs (9) and RBI (11).

The rotund right-handed hitter, however, had a difficult return. Despite hitting .330, he managed just 19 homers in his last season before coming to Japan as a free agent.

Although Lee has hit 108 homers in Japan, he struggled in his first season here and didn't hit his stride until feasting on Central League pitching when interleague play was introduced in 2005.


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