KBO 40th season to open on 2 April

KBO 40th season to open on 2 April
The top clubs invested heavily during the offseason. Commissioner Koo-youn Heo: "We'll do whatever it takes to help bring young people closer to baseball."

One of the top professional leagues in the world, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) league will celebrate its 40th anniversary when it starts on Saturday, 2 April.

And while its status as king of professional sports in Korea is maybe under the microscope, newly appointed KBO Commissioner Koo-youn Heo has made it his mission to further modernise the KBO and adapt the league to a younger audience, a task he is looking forward to.

"I feel like a reliever taking the mound with one out and bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning," Heo said on the day of his inauguration. "But I am not afraid. This is a difficult job for anyone, but I am prepared to make the most of this opportunity to turn things around for the KBO.

"Young people today won't sit around and watch baseball games for three hours. We've come to this point because [previous KBO] people couldn't see the future and lacked expertise [in social media and in marketing to a younger generation]. We'll do whatever it takes to help bring young people closer to baseball."

The 2022 season opens on Saturday with five games:

Hanwha Eagles @ Doosan Bears
LG Twins @ Kia Tigers
Lotte Giants @ Kiwoom Heroes
SSG Landers @ NC Dinos
Samsung Lions @ KT Wiz

According to the Korea Herald, KBO will count on household names who have returned from Major League Baseball (MLB) such as left-handed pitchers Hyeon-jong Yang (Kia Tigers) and Kwang-hyun Kim (SSG Landers), who have penned multi-year and multi-million deals.

The Tigers also signed slugger Sung-bum Na, a WBSC Premier12 winner, to a record six-year and US$ 12.6 million deal.

The offseason brought more high-profile signings. The Kiwoom Heroes landed former MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig. The Cuban slugger, nicknamed Wild Horse, is already a fan-favourite despite a poor pre-season.

Rookie infielder Do-young Kim, 18, on the contrary, had an impressive spring. The infielder is one of the players to watch on the Kia Tigers roster.

There's a lot of anticipation for utility man Chan-eui Song of the LG Twins. Touted as a top prospect since 2017, he will make the opening day roster for the first time.

The KBO announced that the 10 clubs would jointly organize a retirement tour for star slugger Dae-ho Lee, 39. The former KBO Triple-Crown winner and NPB Japan Series MVP spent the 2016 season with the Seattle Mariners of MLB. He helped world No. 3 Korea win the Bejing Olympic gold medal, the inaugural WBSC Premier12 title, and the 2009 World Baseball Classic silver medal.

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