Retiring KBO slugger Lee Dae-ho being considered for offseason exhibitions vs. MLB | Yonhap News Agency

Retiring KBO slugger Lee Dae-ho being considered for offseason exhibitions vs. MLB | Yonhap News Agency

BUSAN, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) — South Korean baseball star Lee Dae-ho, who is set to wrap up his 22-year professional career this fall, may see his playing days extended a little bit in November.

Major League Baseball (MLB) announced at a press conference here Monday that it will bring a 28-man roster of star players to South Korea for four exhibition games against Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) players in November. The southeastern city of Busan will host the first two games of the “MLB World Tour Korea Series” on Nov. 11 and 12, with Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul to stage the next two games on Nov. 14 and 15.

Lee, born and raised in Busan, has spent his entire KBO career with his hometown team, Lotte Giants. He first played for them from 2001 to 2011, and then reunited with them in 2017 after stints in Japan and the United States.

As far as Busan is concerned, there is no one more important than the city’s favorite baseball player to represent the KBO against the big leaguers.

“We’re looking forward to hosting these special games in Busan,” Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon said at the press conference, also attended by Jim Small, MLB’s senior vice president of international operations, and Heo Koo-youn, commissioner of the KBO.

“Lee Dae-ho is retiring this year, but I hope to see him play in the upcoming games,” Park added.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Lee had been formally asked to suit up for the MLB World Tour games. It is expected to be a tough sell for the 40-year-old, whose Giants will likely miss the KBO postseason. In that case, Lee’s final regular season game will be on Oct. 8, leaving slightly more than a month between then and the first game against the MLB team.

Heo said the decision will be entirely left up to Lee.

“His presence will carry symbolic significance,” Heo added. “But we will leave this up to him.”

Lee is putting together one of the greatest swan songs in KBO history, and he wouldn’t be just a token addition to the KBO side if he decided to play in November.

Through Sunday’s action, Lee ranked second in the KBO with a .339 batting average and third with 169 hits. He is also one of just 10 players so far this season with at least 20 home runs and sits in seventh place with 88 RBIs. An on-base plus slugging percentage of .888 puts Lee in sixth place.

Heo said, as difficult as it may be to get up for offseason games so soon after the conclusion of the season, he hoped KBO players could use these games as an opportunity to test themselves against major leaguers, with the 2023 World Baseball Classic also in mind.

“I believe there will be so much to learn from these games for our players,” Heo said. “It’s one thing to watch major leaguers on TV but quite another to actually play against them and see where they stand.”

Small, the MLB executive, said major leaguers will not take the four games in South Korea lightly.

“It’s important to remember that the team we’re bringing will be some of the best athletes and competitors in the world,” he said. “We will look at this game as a competition, and quite frankly, we want to win every game, because every great athlete wants to win every game that they play.”

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